Sir William Fettes Douglas

Sir William Fettes Douglas, 1822 - 1891. Artist (self-portrait) (About 1845)

About this artwork

This painting is probably the ‘Portrait of a Gentleman’ that was exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy in 1845. It is an early self-portrait, painted two years before Fettes Douglas abandoned a career in banking for the arts. Dark and contemplative, the artist is seated holding a large book – anticipating his future as an extremely cultured man: he became an authority on aspects of Italian art, a curator at the National Gallery of Scotland, and President of the RSA. Perhaps most noted for his still lifes, he took meticulous care in depicting books, antiques and curios of which he had a fine and extensive collection. However, in later years he bacame more inspired by landscape and produced numerous watercolours, with the National Galleries of Scotland now holding a large collection.

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.