William Nicholson

Sir Adam Ferguson, 1771 - 1855. Soldier; friend of Sir Walter Scott (about 1830)

About this artwork

Ferguson, the eldest son of the famous philosopher, Professor Adam Ferguson, met Sir Walter Scott when they were both students at Edinburgh University and they remained life-long friends. Scott said that Ferguson had 'the lightest and most airy temper with the best and kindliest disposition'. At the time when this portrait was painted, Ferguson was living as a tenant on Scott's estate at Abbotsford. Scott recalled with pride that Ferguson, who had fought against Napoleon's army in Spain, read the description of the battle from 'The Lady of the Lake' to his soldiers when they were under bombardment from the French.

William Nicholson

William Nicholson

Born in Northumberland, Nicholson was a self-taught artist who began his career painting miniature portraits. By 1820 he had settled in Edinburgh. He was a founder member of the Royal Scottish Academy and served as its first Secretary between 1826 and 1830. He exhibited every year at the Royal Scottish Academy from 1827 until his death, showing landscapes and fancy subjects as well as portraits.