Reverend Thomson was the minister of the local Kirk in Duddingston. Following his studies for the ministry at Edinburgh University, during which time he received art lessons from Alexander Nasmyth, Thomson set up his studio on the shore of Duddingston Loch.
In 1818 he was visited by JMW Turner, who upon taking in the studio view is said to have remarked "By God sir, I envy you that piece of water". When Duddingston Tower, designed by William Playfair, was built in 1825 Thomson occupied the upper floor, sharing the space with the Duddingston Curling Society. He named his studio 'Edinburgh', allowing him to escape distracting visitors with the excuse that he was unavailable has he had gone to 'Edinburgh'.