Trustees Academy School of Art

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In 1760 the Board of Trustees for Fisheries, Manufacturers and Improvements in Scotland established the Trustees Drawing Academy, the forerunner of Edinburgh College of Art.

The aim was to provide instruction for people involved in design for manufacture. In particular, it promoted the art of drawing for use in designing patterns for the wool and linen industries. The Master of the School was always a fine artist, the first being French painter William Delacour, d. 1767. Subsequent masters included Alexander Runciman (1736-1785) and David Allan (1744-1796). The Academy rapidly developed into a notable school for both design and painting, producing such important Scottish artists as John Brown (1752-1787) and Alexander Nasmyth (1758-1840).

The Academy was originally situated in Picardy Place, Edinburgh, but in 1826 classes moved to the Royal Institution building on the Mound (now the Royal Scottish Academy). Its name was changed first to the Trustees Academy School of Design and eventually to the Trustees Academy School of Art.

In 1858 the Academy was affiliated to the Science and Art Department in London. Under what became known as the 'South Kensington System', it was required to give up its traditional methods of teaching and become the Government School of Art for Edinburgh. Many felt that the Academy had thus lost its distinctive character, and an alternative body, the School of Applied Art was founded in 1892.

In 1903, however, the School of Applied Art amalgamated with the Trustees Academy School becoming its Architecture department. Eventually, in 1907 the Scottish Education Department took over responsibility for the School and it became the Edinburgh College of Art.