About this artwork

James Russell and his son, also James, were leading figures in Enlightenment Edinburgh’s medical profession. The elder James was head of the Incorporation of Surgeons and later Professor of Natural Philosophy at Edinburgh University. His son also became a surgeon, his efforts to improve the surgical training of medical students leading to his appointment as Edinburgh’s first Regius Professor of Clinical Surgery.

David Martin’s beautifully observed portrait of father and son shows the way that Edinburgh’s lively intellectual and scientific life was opening to the wider world, symbolised respectively by the weighty volume on the desk and the globe behind them. The bold and exploratory attitude James Russell fostered in his son was shared by many Scots of the time, and encouraged the scientific, military, intellectual and entrepreneurial achievements that would have profound impacts, for both good and ill, at home and abroad.

Updated before 2020

Does this text contain inaccurate information or language that you feel we should improve or change? Tell us what you think.

David Martin

David Martin