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John Syme RSA (1795–3 August1861) was a Scottish portrait painter.


John James Audubon, 1826 portrait by John Syme, commissioned by William Home Lizars
Abercromby Place, Edinburgh

A nephew of Patrick Syme, he was born in Edinburgh and studied in the Trustees' Academy on Picardy Place. He became a pupil and assistant of Sir Henry Raeburn, whose unfinished works he completed, and subsequently practised with success as a portrait-painter in Edinburgh.

In the 1830s he is listed as living at 32 Abercromby Place in Edinburgh's Second New Town.[1]

Syme was an original member of the Royal Scottish Academy, founded in 1826, and took an active part in its management. He died in Edinburgh on 3 August 1861.


He painted many portraits. That of John Barclay M.D. was exhibited at the London Royal Academy in 1819, and went to the Scottish National Gallery; it was engraved in mezzotint by Thomas Hodgetts, as were also those of John Broster and Andrew McKean. Syme's self-portrait went to the Royal Scottish Academy. A portrait of Alexander Henderson, Lord Provost of Edinburgh 1823-1825 hangs in the Merchant Hall in Edinburgh.


  1. ^ "Edinburgh Post Office annual directory, 1832-1833". National Library of Scotland. Retrieved 18 January 2018.

  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain"Syme, John (1795-1861)". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.