In 1865 the Great Hall was enlarged by the architect David Bryce, who ordered the roundel portraits from George MacCallum. MacCallum was paid four pounds per profile, a total of £60 for the set of 15 ‘Heads with wreaths’.

The portraits appear along the frieze in the Great Hall. Each of the figures in the roundel portraits is surrounded by a laurel wreath which is both an aesthetic, decorative feature, and a classical symbol which emphasises the importance of the figure depicted in the portrait.

This profile offers a simple portrayal of Abercrombie, with detailing evident in the depiction of his hair and the area surrounding his eye. The College also possesses a marble bust of Abercrombie, sculpted by the artist Sir John Steell.

John Abercrombie (1780 – 1844)

Having studied at the University of Edinburgh and St George’s Hospital, London, Abercrombie commenced general practice in Edinburgh in 1804. Abercrombie became attached the Royal Public Dispensary and also took on pupils studying for medial degrees. He was noted for the attention which he paid his patients, who he visited frequently.  During his career Abercrombie became the leading physician in Edinburgh, his private practice became extensive and his consultation was sought throughout Scotland.

Furthermore, he wrote extensively on the pathological aspects of disease and his best known works included Pathological and Practical Researches on the Diseases of the Brain and Spinal Cord (1828) and Diseases of the Stomach, Intestinal Canal, the Liver and the other Viscera of the Abdomen (1828). In 1824 he became a fellow of the RCPE and served as fiscal, censor and general member of the council at various times. In 1841 it was proposed that he ought to be made president of the College, however he declined as he had suffered from a serious illness earlier that year.