Painter. Born in Silvermills (Edinburgh), the son of John Lauder a tannery owner and Burgess of Edinburgh, Lauder was educated at the Edinburgh Academy and in London. With the help of his friend and fellow painter Rev. John Thomson (1778 - 1840), he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Scottish Academy (1829). He married Thomson's daughter in St. Cuthbert's Kirk in Edinburgh and lived in Europe and London, before returning to Scotland in 1849. By this time he had established himself as a successful painter of genre, historical and biblical subjects, as well as portraits. Sir Walter Scott's novels provided him with many subjects, including Scene from The Bride of Lammermoor (1839). Other work includes portraits of John Thomson, author and natural historian Sir Thomas Dick Lauder (1784 - 1848), painter Thomas Duncan (1807-45), writer John Gibson Lockhart (1794 - 1854) and sculptor Sir John Steell (1804-91).
He took up the post of Master of the Trustees' Academy in 1852, becoming one of the most famous art teachers of his time and introducing innovative teaching methods. However his career ended when he was paralysed by a stroke in 1861. He lies buried in Warriston Cemetery in Edinburgh.