Sir Henry Raeburn is a Scottish portrait painter. In spite of his status, Raeburn’s career is surprisingly little documented. He was born in 1756, in Edinburgh, was orphaned, educated at Heriot’s Hospital in Edinburgh, and brought up under the general supervision of his elder brother William. In 1772, he was apprenticed to James Gilliland, an Edinburgh goldsmith; while he was still an apprentice he began to paint miniatures, first in watercolors, then in oils.
In 1780, he married Anne Leslie, widow of Count Leslie, who was 12 years his senior and the mother of 3 children. In 1782, he joined the class under the supervision of Alexander Runciman. In April 1784 he left Edinburgh for Italy, where he stayed until 1887. We do not know how he spent his time in Italy.
On his return he settled in Edinburgh, and soon attained pre-eminence among Scottish artists. He was knighted by George IV in 1822, and appointed king’s limner for Scotland a few days before his death. His style was to some extent founded on that of Reynolds, but his bold brushwork and brave use of contrasting colors make his works original. Among his sitters were the writer Sir Walter Scott, philosopher Hume, songwriter and printer Boswell, critic and essayist John Wilson and other outstanding men of Scotland.
Painting of Europe. XIII-XX centuries. Encyclopedic Dictionary. Moscow. Iskusstvo. 1999.
c.1793. Oil on canvas. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, USA.