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Sir William Fettes Douglas


1822 - 1891

Artist. Born in Edinburgh and educated at the Royal High School there, Douglas gained his middle name from his great-great-uncle Sir William Fettes, the founder of Fettes College. He began his career working for the Commercial Bank of Scotland, but was a talented amateur artist. He trained at the Trustees' Academy under Sir William Allan (1782 - 1850) and became a full-time painter from 1847. He painted portraits, including those of fellow artists Alexander Fraser (1828-99), Erskine Nicol (1825 -1904) and Thomas Faed (1826 - 1900). His more important works include The Alchemist (1855) in the Victoria and Albert Museum (London), Hudibras and Ralph visiting the Astrologer (1856) and A Street in Rome in the National Gallery of Scotland, The Rosicrucian (1856) held by Glasgow Museums, A Scene from 'The Antiquary' (the novel by Sir Walter Scott) in the McManus Galleries in Dundee and Reading to the Deaf Man in the John Muir House in Dunbar.

He became Curator of the National Gallery of Scotland (1877-82) and President of the Royal Scottish Academy (1882-91). He was knighted in 1882 and awarded an honorary degree by the University of Edinburgh in 1884.

He died at Newburgh (Fife) and lies buried in Dean Cemetery.


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