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Sir William Fettes Douglas, 1822 - 1891. Artist (self-portrait)

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Sir William Fettes Douglas, 1822 - 1891. Artist (self-portrait) About 1845

Not on display

  • Scottish Art
This painting is probably the ‘Portrait of a Gentleman’ that was exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy in 1845. It is an early self-portrait, painted two years before Fettes Douglas abandoned a career in banking for the arts. Dark and contemplative, the artist is seated holding a large book – anticipating his future as an extremely cultured man: he became an authority on aspects of Italian art, a curator at the Scottish National Gallery, and President of the RSA. Perhaps most noted for his still lifes, he took meticulous care in depicting books, antiques and curios of which he had a fine and extensive collection. However, in later years he bacame more inspired by landscape and produced numerous watercolours, with the National Galleries of Scotland now holding a large collection.

Glossary Open

Royal Scottish Academy

The Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) was formed in Edinburgh in 1826 by Scottish artists who felt alienated by what they perceived as the elitism of the Royal Institution and its management of contemporary art exhibitions. In 1835, the RSA secured exhibition rights in the Royal Institution building, which had been erected on The Mound by the Board of Manufactures in 1826. The RSA and the Board frequently argued over responsibilities for advanced art education. From 1859, the RSA shared the premises of the new National Gallery of Scotland under the Board’s custody. In 1910, after transferring most of its art collections to the Gallery, the RSA gained exclusive tenancy of the former Royal Institution building, where it continues to hold large-scale annual exhibitions.

Still life

A painting, drawing or photograph depicting inanimate objects.


A paint with colouring and binding agents diluted with water. It has a transparent quality and is usually applied to paper.

Royal Scottish Academy, Still life, Watercolour


  • Acc. No. PG 3111
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Size 66.00 x 53.00 cm (framed: 76.30 x 61.00 x 6.50 cm)
  • Credit Presented by Mrs Jane Hines Reis in memory of her sister Dr Joyce Rose Hines 1998