Throughout its history the RSA’s collections have been greatly enhanced through gifts and bequests.

Almost all acquisitions have come directly from artists themselves, their families, or from people closely associated with the creative network in Scotland.

Gifts and Bequests cut across mediums and categories and range from individual objects to expansive collections of material. In some cases they will comprise entire estates from artists, including sketchbooks and studio objects.

Major gifts and bequests received include near 160 paintings and drawings by William D McKay, large cartoons for murals by William Dyce, around 30 prints by James Cadenhead, an album of pioneering 19th century Scottish photography and groups of Edinburgh architectural work by Charles Robert Cockerell and Thomas Hamilton. In more recent memory, collections of prints by Frances Walker and Elizabeth Blackadder create distinct representations of important Scottish artists in the RSA collections.

A particular strength of the RSA collections stems from the way gifts and bequests give an overview of an artist’s practice and career. The 1973 Sir William G Gillies bequest, 1987 James Miller bequest and the William Littlejohn bequest and James Cumming gift of 2006 create studio collections that are essential in understanding the work of each artist.