This bust is the work of Mark McCue and was presented to the college by the Al Hammadi Hospital, Riyadh, on 10 January 1997. This bust can be seen at the centre of the College’s Sir Robert Sibbald Physic Garden.

This work represents one of the few twentieth century pieces to be found in the College's collection of busts, which is dominated by pieces from the nineteenth century. The bust appears to demonstrate a style which is more impressionistic than that seen in any of the other busts which tend toward realism and, sometimes, idealised depictions of human features.

Sir Robert Sibbald (1641 -1722)

Sibbald was born in Edinburgh and studied at the city’s university and Leiden, taking his degree of M.D. in 1661. Following around a year spent in Paris and Angers he returned to Edinburgh in 1662. By 1667, Sibbald and Dr Andrew Balfour, had established a botanical garden on lands acquired from the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

Sibbald, with Balfour, Thomas Burnet, Alexander Stevenson and Archibald Pitcairne, was a founding member of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, which obtained its charter in 1681. The following year Sibbald was knighted through the patronage of James Drummond, fourth earl of Perth and Chancellor of Scotland. That year Sibbald also became physician-in-ordinary to Charles II and Geographer Royal of Scotland. In 1684 Sibbald became the president of the College and in the following year he became the University of Edinburgh’s first Professor of Medicine. However, in 1685 Sibbald converted to become a Roman Catholic, a move which shocked his contemporaries and led to a mob storming his house. He subsequently resigned his presidency of the RCPE and fled to London. However, he later renounced Catholicism and re-joined the Protestant church.

Sibbald authored a number of geographical and statistical accounts of Scotland which included his most elaborate work: Scotia illustrate; sive prodomus historiae naturalis; in quo regionis natura, incolarum ingenia et mores, morbid iisque medendi methodus, et medicina indigena, accurate explicantur (1684). This was a wide ranging essay on Scotland’s Natural History covering subjects from flora and fauna to human disease. Meanwhile his essay Provision for the poor in time of dearth and scarcity (1699) can be seen to demonstrate his concern with improving his contemporary Scotland.

Sibbald also made a significant contribution to the College by donating 100 volumes in 1681.This donation founded what would become the oldest and largest medical library in Scotland. From Sibbald’s donation the library has now come to hold over 60,000 books and almost 1500 journals as well as 300 externally deposited manuscript collections.