Bruce Thomson - or 'Adam B' as he was often called - was a painter of great integrity whose long, productive life tells the story of Scottish painting for the first three quarters the 20th century. Thomson was born in 1885 attending first the Trustees Academy and then the newly established Edinburgh College of Art where he received diplomas in both Drawing and Painting, and Architecture before scholarships took him abroad to Spain and then Paris. He was an accomplished etcher and lithographer and he also sought expertise in the difficult media of pastel and watercolour. By the 1920s, his technique was closest to S.J. Peploe, Cadell and other contemporaries favouring the technique of painting on a gesso ground with an oil-reduced vehicle so the subjects tended to be treated in flat areas of colour.

Thomson served in the Great War before returning to the College where he taught etching, composition and still life to the painting school and colour theory to the architecture students. His association with Edinburgh College of Art continued until his death; although he retired from teaching in 1950, he continued as an examiner and a Trustee. His links with both the RSA, where he was Treasurer for seven years and the RSW, where he served as President for a further seven years from 1957 were very important to him. He was awarded an OBE in 1963.