A portrait of Duncan Brown reading a book, c 1856.
Brown (1819-1897) was a talented amateur photographer whose work documents aspects of Glasgow life from the 1850s until the 1890s. He was born in Kincardine, one of nine children. Several of the family moved to Glasgow looking for employment, and in 1845 Brown became the janitor at the Government School of Design in Ingram Street, the forerunner of the School of Art. He was given living accommodation in the School as part of his job and set up a makeshift studio: this portrait was taken there. A mirror image photograph of his wife exists and the two were probably intended to be displayed together.
The post of janitor was well paid, for as well as free lodgings Brown was paid £1 a week at a time when some of the teachers were only paid £25 a year. The janitor's responsibilities were wide-ranging, and in the 1860s included keeping the premises clean, keeping books of attendance, keeping the petty cash, keeping the library in order, visiting classes regularly to keep the students in order and much more.
In 1862 Brown went to work at the City Chambers. The new post brought him into closer contact with two of his brothers, one of whom was the Council Officer and the other the driver of the Lord Provost's coach.
Reproduced with the permission of Glasgow School of Art Archives
coachmen, Council Officers, Glasgow School of Art, Government School of Design, janitors, photographers, photographers' studios, photography, portraits, reading