This bust is made of plaster and is recorded as having been made by a sculptor called MacDonald; it is probable that this was the respected Scottish sculptor Lawrence MacDonald.

MacDonald often worked in a neoclassical style which is clearly evident in this bust of Duncan who is depicted draped in classical garments. Some of MacDonald’s works have been criticised for idealising the sitter, however in this bust MacDonald has not neglected the wrinkles around Duncan’s eyes alongside the mole on his right cheek.

Andrew Duncan Senior

Andrew Duncan Sr. obtained his MA from St Andrews University in 1762 and the same year he became a medical student at the University of Edinburgh. Following a voyage to China as a physician on a ship of the East India Company in 1768 Duncan returned to St Andrews where he completed his MD in 1769.

The following year he became a licentiate of the Edinburgh College of Physicians and published his first book, Elements of Therapeutics. At the University of Edinburgh Duncan would proceed to hold the position of Professor of Institutes of Medicine for 30 years. Furthermore 1807 he became the first appointed professor of jurisprudence at the University of Edinburgh, following his long campaign for the establishment of this chair.

However, Duncan’s work outside the university was also particularly significant. He founded both Edinburgh’s Aesculapian and Harveian clubs, to encourage friendly intellectual relations between physicians and surgeons. He also established Medical and Philosophical Commentaries, a quarterly medical journal, in 1773. This was the first medical review to be regularly published in Great Britain and by 1780 it was translated into German and was publishing news from medical societies in France, Denmark, Russia and America. In 1775 the journal became known as Annals of Medicine and production ceased in 1804 leaving the way open for the Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal which was edited by Duncan’s son, Andrew Duncan the Younger.

Importantly, Duncan was also responsible for the foundation of a public dispensary, later the Royal Public Dispensary, which provided free medical advice and medicines to the poor of Edinburgh. Duncan also proposed plans for a public lunatic asylum, which was built in Morningside in 1807.

Duncan was elected President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh in 1790 and was re-elected for a second presidency in 1824. Moreover, on his death in July 1828 he left 100 volumes of practical observations on medicine in his own writing to the RCPE. In 1808 the freedom of Edinburgh was conferred on him for his work leading to the foundation of the dispensary and asylum. He also held positions as the physician to the king and Prince of Wales in Scotland and was the first president of the Edinburgh Medico-Chirurgical Society in 1824.