Item NMC/1829B - Pencil self portrait of John Murdoch

Key Information

Reference code



Pencil self portrait of John Murdoch


  • 1851 (Creation)

Level of description



1 item

Content and Structure

Scope and content

A pencil sketch of a young man working in the sculpture workshop.  A hand written label on the reverse reads, 'John Murdoch sketch by himself at Glasgow School of Art when a student.'  In another hand, the dates 1824 - 1954 have been added. On the backing sheet, another note reads,' John Murdoch (1824 - 1854) Self portrait at Glasgow School of Art when Rector.'

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

General Information

Name of creator


Biographical history

John Murdoch was born in Glasgow in 1824. He showed an early talent in sketching, and after the family moved to Aberlady, he became an apprentice engraver with W A & K Johnstone the map publishers in Edinburgh and won prizes from the Royal Institution of Edinburgh for designs in china and stoneware. His work caught the attention of the Earl of Weymss who encouraged him to go on to study at the Government School of Design at Somerset House in London and helped secure his release from Johnstones so he could pursue his art training. By 1846, he was sent to Birmingham to take temporary charge of the School of Design there and was then appointed to take charge at Stoke-on-Trent. From there he was asked to beome Head Master in Glasgow, but much to the surprise of the local committee, this appointment was not ratified by the Central Committee of Management at the Board of Trade, who appointed his old Director from Somerset House, C H Wilson instead. The two men knew each other well, and the correspondence shows that they sorted this out amicably between themselves, with Wilson taking the senior position and Murdoch working as his deputey. Murdoch continued in that position, later turning down the opportunity to move to become the Head Master in Belfast. He died suddenly at the age of thirty in 1854 and letters from his colleague C H Wilson and from his students reveal how popular he was with both students and staff.

Archival history

Custodial history

Given to GSA by Peter Lamberton of Sheffield, a member of the Murdoch family, in November 2017, along with an oil portrait of John Murdoch and some family notes drawn from contemporary correspondence.

Physical Description and Conditions of Use

Conditions governing access

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical Description

Pencil sketch on paper, behind glass, wooden frame

Dimensions: 575 x 460 x 20 mm

Finding aids

Related Material

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related materials

NMC/1829A oil portrait of John Murdoch from same donor

Related descriptions

Notes area

Alternative identifier(s)


Place access points

People and Organisations

Genre access points


Level of detail

Processing information




Accession area

Related people and organisations

Related genres

Related places