About this artwork

Although he trained and worked as a physician, George Johnston was a botanist and zoologist at heart. His studies in natural history resulted in some ninety articles in scientific journals and several books on British flora and fauna. In 1831 he was one of the founders of the Berwickshire Naturalists' Club and became its first president. Most of his life he lived in and rarely left his beloved Berwick, and his first major publication was 'The Flora of Berwick-upon-Tweed', which was illustrated by his wife. Other publications include the 'History of British Zoophytes' and his 'History of British Sponges and Lithophytes', which may be the volumes on his desk in this portrait.

  • title: George Johnston, 1797 - 1855. Naturalist and author
  • accession number: PG 3113
  • artist: William BonnarScottish (1800 - 1853)
  • depicted: George Johnston
  • gallery: Paxton House
  • object type: Painting
  • subject: Medicine and science
  • materials: Oil on board
  • date created: Dated 1849
  • measurements: 45.00 x 35.60 cm (framed: 68.80 x 58.70 x 7.80 cm)
  • credit line: Purchased 1998
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve

William Bonnar

William Bonnar

William Bonnar was born in Edinburgh, the son of a housepainter. At an early age he showed an aptitude for painting and was apprenticed to a leading decorative artist. In 1824 he exhibited for the first time as a professional artist; five years later he was elected a member of the Royal Scottish Academy, shortly after its foundation in 1828. Initially, Bonnar specialised in rural scenes and images of children but later on he concentrated on painting portraits, many of which were engraved by his sons. A popular and prolific artist, he painted a range of important sitters, including Thomas Chalmers, William Cunningham and John Blackie Senior.