This marble bust, which was presented as a gift to the College by Dr George Bell in 1868, provides a classicised portrayal of Hamilton, who is depicted draped in classical-style robes.

The bust is by Samuel Joseph, and according to a letter sent by Dr Bell (25 May 1868) to the president of the College (Moir), Bell believed that the bust had been made ‘about the year 1820’ and that it ‘is one of the best modelled by Joseph, and as a work of Art is of high order’. Dr Bell proceeded to say that he did ‘greatly value’ the bust but that he felt it was ‘hidden’ whilst it was in his possession and therefore he had decided to give the bust to the RCPE.

James Hamilton (1749 - 1835)

Hamilton had a career as a prominent and well-respected physician in Edinburgh working at the Royal Infirmary, the Trades Maiden Hospital and George Heriot’s Hospital (now George Heriot’s School). Hamilton was particularly known for his work Observations on the Utility and Administration of Purgative Medicines (1805) which ran to eight editions. He became a fellow of the college in 1772 and was president 1792 – 1794.

Hamilton was also known by the nickname ‘Cocky Hamilton’ because, in his later years, he was one of the last residents of Edinburgh to continue to don eighteenth century fashions, including his three-cornered cocked-hat.