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Lawrence MacDonald was a respected Scottish sculptor born in Perthshire. During the early 1820s he moved to Rome and established himself as a sculptor of portrait busts. He was also one of the founding members of the British Academy of Arts in Rome 1822 – 1823. MacDonald was popular with Scottish and English travellers in Rome, and it became fashionable to commission a portrait bust from him whilst visiting the city. Amongst his patrons were the Duke of Atholl and Sir Evan McGregor.

MacDonald spent the period 1826 – 1832 in Scotland; during this time he exhibited his works and won widespread acclaim, with the Edinburgh Literary Journal even comparing him to Canova. Following this period in Scotland MacDonald returned to Rome where labour and marble were cheaper and he remained there for the rest of his life. He was also involved in assisting younger sculptors, including John Hutchison and William Brodie whose work can also be seen in the collection of the RCPE.

MacDonald often worked in a neoclassical style with a tendency to idealise his subjects. He produced numerous classicised portrait busts, such as the bust of Andrew Duncan Sr. in the College’s collection.