Thomas Duncan (painter)

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Thomas Duncan, by Hill & Adamson, about 1844; medium: calotype print, size: 19.60 x 14.50 cm; from the collection of the National Galleries of Scotland Thomas Duncan, 1807 - 1845.jpg
Thomas Duncan, by Hill & Adamson, about 1844; medium: calotype print, size: 19.60 x 14.50 cm; from the collection of the National Galleries of Scotland

Thomas Duncan ARA RSA (4 May 1807 25 April 1845) was a Scottish portrait and historical painter. [1]



Duncan was born in Kinclaven, Perthshire on 4 May 1807.

Perthshire registration county in central Scotland

Perthshire, officially the County of Perth, is a historic county and registration county in central Scotland. Geographically it extends from Strathmore in the east, to the Pass of Drumochter in the north, Rannoch Moor and Ben Lui in the west, and Aberfoyle in the south; its borders the counties of Inverness-shire and Aberdeenshire to the north, Angus to the east, Fife, Kinross-shire, Clackmannanshire, Stirlingshire and Dunbartonshire to the south and Argyllshire to the west. It was a local government county from 1890 to 1930.

Educated at the Perth Academy, he began studying law, but abandoned it for art. Beginning under the instruction of Sir William Allan, he attained early distinction as a delineator of the human figure; and his first pictures established his fame so completely, that at a very early age he was appointed professor of coloring and afterwards of drawing, in the Trustees Academy of Edinburgh.

Perth Academy High school in Perth, Perth and Kinross, Scotland

Perth Academy is a state comprehensive secondary school in Perth, Scotland. It was founded in 1696. The institution is a non-denominational one. The school occupies ground on the side of a hill in the Viewlands area of Perth, and is within the Perth and Kinross Council area.

William Allan (painter) Scottish historical painter

Sir William Allan was a distinguished Scottish historical painter known for his scenes of Russian life. He became president of the Royal Scottish Academy and was made a Royal Academician.

In the 1830s his address is given as 1 Darnaway Street, a large Georgian flat on the edge of the Moray Estate in the west end of Edinburgh's New Town. [2]

Moray Estate

The Moray Estate in Edinburgh was an exclusive early 19th century building venture attaching the west side of Edinburgh's New Town.

New Town, Edinburgh central area of Edinburgh, Scotland

The New Town is a central area of Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. A masterpiece of city planning, it was built in stages between 1767 and around 1850, and retains much of its original neo-classical and Georgian period architecture. Its best known street is Princes Street, facing Edinburgh Castle and the Old Town across the geographical depression of the former Nor Loch. Together with the Old Town, the New Town was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.

He died of a brain tumour [3] in Edinburgh on 25 April 1845. [1]

Edinburgh Capital city in Scotland

Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and one of its 32 council areas. Historically part of the county of Midlothian, it is located in Lothian on the Firth of Forth's southern shore.

The grave of Thomas Duncan, Warriston Cemetery The grave of Thomas Duncan, Warriston Cemetery.JPG
The grave of Thomas Duncan, Warriston Cemetery

He is buried in Warriston Cemetery in north Edinburgh. The grave lies on a slope next to the steps at the east end of the vaults next to the grave of James Young Simpson.

Warriston Cemetery cemetery in City of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

Warriston Cemetery lies in Warriston, one of the northern suburbs of Edinburgh, Scotland. It was built by the then newly-formed Edinburgh Cemetery Company, and occupies around 14 acres (5.7 ha) of land on a slightly sloping site. It contains many tens of thousands of graves, including notable Victorian and Edwardian figures, the most eminent being the physician Sir James Young Simpson.

James Young Simpson British obstetrician

Sir James Young Simpson, 1st Baronet, FRCPE was a Scottish obstetrician and a significant figure in the history of medicine. He was the first physician to demonstrate the anaesthetic properties of chloroform on humans and helped to popularise the drug's use in medicine.


Rev Thomas Chalmers by Thomas Duncan 1840 Rev Thomas Chalmers by Thomas Duncan, SNPG.JPG
Rev Thomas Chalmers by Thomas Duncan 1840

In 1840 Duncan painted one of his finest pictures, Charles Edward Stuart and the Highlanders entering Edinburgh after the Battle of Prestonpans , which secured his election as an associate of the Royal Academy in 1843. In the same year he produced his picture of Charles Edward asleep after Culloden, protected by Flora MacDonald , which, like many other of his works, has been often engraved. In 1844 appeared his Cupid, and his Martyrdom of John Brown of Priesthill .

His last known work (late 1844) was a self-portrait, now in the National Gallery in Edinburgh. He particularly excelled in his portraits of ladies and children, yet his own portrait was painted by Robert Scott Lauder.

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  1. 1 2 "Duncan, Thomas". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/8230.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. "Edinburgh Post Office annual directory, 1832-1833". National Library of Scotland. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  3. Rembrant (exhibition catalogue) July 2018 RSA