David Abercrombie Donaldson was born in Lanarkshire and studied at Glasgow School of Art from 1932 to 1937. He was awarded a Travelling Scholarship to Florence and Paris which he fitted in around his part-time teaching at the GSA from 1938 until he took on a full-time position from 1944 and became the highly influencial Head of Drawing and Painting there from 1968. Donaldson was appointed Her Majesty's Painter and Limner in Scotland from 1977 until his death in 1996. A society portrait painter Donaldson was commissioned to paint the Queen in 1966 and amongst his other notable subjects were Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and many and prominent figures in Scottish public life. Shortly before his death after celebrating his 80th birthday in 1996 he was awarded the City of Glasgow Lord Provost’s Award for the Visual Arts. A biography by W. Gordon Smith was published in the same year.