Thomas Bruce, 1785 - 1850. Depute Clerk of Session and friend of Sir Walter Scott (about 1830)

About this artwork

Thomas Bruce of Langlee, near Jedburgh, was an acquaintance and neighbour of the author Sir Walter Scott, who lived nearby in the Scottish Borders. In 1810, Bruce was made a Writer to the Signet; a privileged judicial position in Scotland. He was appointed to the post of Depute Clerk of Session in 1824, a job that his father had previously held. Bruce joined the Berwickshire yeomanry in 1811 as a commissioned officer, serving first as lieutenant and later as captain. This small ‘cabinet’ portrait, measuring only about 20 by 15 inches, is possibly a sketch for a larger work. It is attributed to Sir Watson-Gordon, a highly-regarded portrait painter who painted most of the Scottish celebrities of his time, including Scott himself.

  • title: Thomas Bruce, 1785 - 1850. Depute Clerk of Session and friend of Sir Walter Scott
  • accession number: PG 1599
  • Attributed to: Sir John Watson GordonScottish (1788 - 1864)
  • artist: Unknown
  • depicted: Thomas Bruce
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Painting
  • subject: Walter Scott The law
  • materials: Oil on canvas
  • date created: about 1830
  • measurements: 52.10 x 38.10 cm
  • credit line: Bequeathed by Miss Maria S. Steuart 1953

Sir John Watson Gordon

Sir John Watson Gordon

John Watson Gordon was training to become an army engineer when, encouraged by his uncle, the painter, George Watson, and Raeburn, who was a family friend, he decided to become an artist. His first works were subject pictures but, after Raeburn's death in 1823, he established himself as the leading portrait painter in Scotland. His style was at first closely based on Raeburn but was later more influenced by his admiration for Velázquez. In 1850 he was elected President of the Royal Scottish Academy, appointed Queen's Limner for Scotland and knighted.