About this artwork

Laing was an expert on Scottish history, art and literature, and a great collector of manuscripts, rare books, drawings and historical portraits. Fettes Douglas has painted him in his study, avidly reading and surrounded by some of his beautiful possessions. Laing's ideas about the importance of historical portraits were important in the founding of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in 1882. His collection of Old Master drawings forms the basis of the National Gallery of Scotland's own holdings.

  • title: David Laing, 1793 - 1878. Antiquary
  • accession number: PG 2041
  • artist: Sir William Fettes DouglasScottish (1822 - 1891)
  • depicted: DAVID LAING
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Painting
  • subject: Interior
  • materials: Oil on canvas
  • date created: 1862
  • measurements: 25.50 x 63.50 cm (framed: 55.00 x 83.50 x 8.50 cm)
  • credit line: Given to the Royal Scottish Academy by the artist 1862; presented to the National Gallery of Scotland by the RSA 1910 and transferred to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery 1964
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve

Sir William Fettes Douglas

Sir William Fettes Douglas

A self-taught painter, William Fettes Douglas worked as a bank clerk in Edinburgh for ten years. He was a keen antiquarian and collector, and his interests in those fields influenced his choice of subject-matter which sometimes included alchemy, astrology and magic. Enormously learned, he was appointed Director of the National Gallery of Scotland in 1877 and five years later, President of the Royal Scottish Academy.