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Brodie, who initially trained as a plumber, studied modelling at the Mechanics’ Institute in Aberdeen and then at the Trustee’s Academy in Edinburgh before finishing his studies in Rome in 1853. On his return to Edinburgh Brodie’s work gained national recognition and competed for popularity with that of Sir John Steell (who was also responsible for some of the busts in the College’s collection). Brodie worked in the liberally classicising tradition established by Sir Francis Chantrey. Aside from his statues and busts which were often portraits of members of high society, for instance Lord Cockburn, Brodie was also responsible for the well-known bronze effigy of Greyfriars Bobby. The College possesses a bronze medallion of Dr William Cullen by Brodie, in addition to his busts of Sir James Young Simpson and William Pulteney Alison.

Letter from William Brodie to Dr Burch of the RCPE, regarding Brodie's medallion of Dr Cullen, 1863.