Henry Raeburn  
Henry Raeburn

Sir Henry Raeburn, (born March 4, 1756, Stockbridge, near Edinburgh—died July 8, 1823, Edinburgh), leading Scottish portrait painter during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

In about 1771 Raeburn was apprenticed to the goldsmith James Gilliland and is said to have studied with the Edinburgh portrait painter David Martin briefly in 1775. But for the most part Raeburn was self-taught, progressing from miniature painting to full-scale portraiture. A portrait of George Chalmers (1776) is Raeburn’s earliest known portrait, and its faulty drawing and incorrect perspective suggest the artist’s lack of formal training. By his marriage to a wealthy widow in 1778, he achieved financial security, and during the next four years he considerably improved his artistic skill. In London in 1785, while en route to a tour of Italy, he met Sir Joshua Reynolds, whose works were already familiar to him from Scottish collections and engravings.

A man of many interests and a good conversationalist, Raeburn became a popular member of cultured Edinburgh society. By about 1790 he had painted the portrait of his wife and the double portrait of Sir John and Lady Clerk in which the artist experimented with unusual lighting from behind the sitters’ heads. During the following decade Raeburn produced some of his most brilliant portraits, such as Sir John Sinclair (c. 1794–95), which foreshadowed The MacNab (c. 1803–13), in which tonalities became darker and lighting more contrasted. In 1812 he was elected president of the Edinburgh Society of Artists, becoming a Royal Academician in 1815. He was knighted in 1822 and shortly thereafter was appointed His Majesty’s Limner for Scotland.

Encyclopædia Britannica


Raeburn's portrait of Sir Walter Scott (1822)

Raeburn's portrait of Alexander Ranaldson MacDonell of Glengarry (1812)

The Reverend Robert Walker Skating on Duddingston Loch, better known as The Skating Minister (1790s)

Mrs. Anne Hart
c. 1810
Oil on canvas, 135 x 109 cm
Staatliche Museen, Berlin


Portrait of Mrs. Eleanor Bethune
Oil on canvas, 76 x 64 cm
The Hermitage, St. Petersburg


Captain Hay of Spot
Oil on canvas, 240 x 151 cm
Musйe du Louvre, Paris

Portrait of Sir John Sinclair
Oil on canvas, 238 x 154 cm
National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh

The Macnab, 1803


Young Girl Holding Flowers
Oil on canvas, 92 x 71 cm
Musйe du Louvre, Paris


Mrs. Colin Campbell of Park

The Binning Children

Captain Patrick Miller

Colonel Francis James Scott

John Johnstone, Betty Johnstone, and Miss Wedderburn

John Tait and His Grandson

The Archers

Boy And Rabbit

Portrait Of The Rev. William Paul

Portrait Of Alexander Keith Of Ravelston, Midlothian


The Drummond Children
Oil on canvas
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.


Miss Eleanor Urquhart


Lady Delves Broughton

Robert Hodshon Cay

William Baillie, Lord Polkemmet


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