John McLeod was born on 18 July 1812 in Golspie, Sutherland. Moving to Edinburgh in the 1830s he specialised in painting cattle, horses and dogs. He received commissions from wealthy landowners including Lord Abercromby and the Duke of Buccleuch. Following the hearing at the Burgh Court in 1867 to establish the identity of Greyfriars Bobby’s owner, the artist was commissioned to paint a portrait of the terrier. Loaned by the owner Thomas Cowan, the painting entitled ‘Greyfriars Bob’ was shown at the RSA’s annual exhibition in the South Octagon Room in the National Gallery of Scotland the following year.The artist also painted a portrait of the little dog lying in a kennel which was presented to the Kirk Session of Old Greyfriars. The niece of a celebrated English writer wrote to the ‘Scotsman’ offering to provide a kennel for the dog shortly after the hearing in the Burgh Court. The painting which was restored by Kenneth Brien in 1986 can now be seen in the visitors’ centre. The prolific painter who lived
at 28 Buccleuch Place died on 16th February 1872. His wife Mary Ann McLeod died on 8th August at Seafield Place in Leith.