Now, more than 150 years after William Henry Playfair’s death, he is set to be honoured with his own statue on the doorstep of the National Museum of Scotland.
Leading sculptor Sandy Stoddart, who was behind other striking tributes to the likes of James Clerk Maxwell, Adam Smith and David Hume, has started work on the new statue, which will have pride of place in a new-look Chambers Street.
The Playfair statue would be installed alongside a relocated statue of the former lord provost and 19th-century Edinburgh publisher William Chambers, which currently stands in the middle of the street.
Bosses at the museum, which unveiled a £46 million revamp last summer, have also announced plans to create a major “public piazza” outside the attraction, after telling the council that Chambers Street presents a “poor face” to the city’s residents and visitors.
Dr Gordon Rintoul, director of National Museums Scotland, said: “It’s been an aspiration of ours since our masterplan for the site at Chambers Street was drawn up in 2004 to create some kind of public piazza outside.
“Chambers Street has some very important public and historic buildings on it but has pretty much become a car park over the years, and we feel it could really benefit from having a high-quality public square outside the museum.”