Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Henry Raeburn

At the age of fifteen, Henry Raeburn (1756-1823) was apprenticed to a goldsmith in Edinburgh. Soon after he began to amuse himself by drawing miniatures, which, although he had never received any lessons, were finished in such a superior manner as to excite attention. His master, astonished at his performances, took him, about the year 1772, to see the paintings of David Martin, then the principal portrait painter in the Scottish metropolis. Martin, who painted many portraits in what Allan Cunningham calls “the first starched Hudson style of Sir Joshua Reynolds,” at that time resided in St. James’ Square. He received the young aspirant courteously, and lent him several pictures, with permission to copy them. He refused, however, to teach him how to prepare his colours, leaving him to find that out for himself. In thus maintaining the mystery of his profession, Martin acted properly enough. He had given him all the assistance which a younger artist, not a pupil, is entitled to expect from an elder, in the way of advice and encouragement, and so far was entitled to praise rather than censure. But when his jealousy of the rising talents of the youth, or his own captious temper, led him somewhat hastily to accuse him of selling one of the copies which he had permitted him to make, the case was different. Raeburn indignantly established his innocence, and refused all further assistance from him.
He continued to paint miniatures, for which there was soon a general demand, and he usually finished two in a week. As this employment necessarily withdrew his time from trade, an arrangement was entered into with his master, whereby the latter, on receiving part of his earnings, dispensed with the young painter’s attendance. In the course of his apprenticeship he began to paint in oil, and on a large scale, a style which he soon adopted in preference to miniature painting.....
(The Scottish Nation)

Ann Raeburn

Raeburn soon began to make a name for himself in his native city; commissions flowed in and a marriage, at once romantic and provident, set him beyond the reach of poverty at the age of twenty-two. In 1778 a lady presented herself at the young painter's studio to sit for her portrait, and was at once recognised as a fair unknown he had met in some sketching excursion and had introduced into a drawing. She was Ann, daughter of a small laird, Peter Edgar of Bridgelands, and the widow of a certain Count Leslie, a Frenchman by nationality. She was some years older than Raeburn, and had had three children, but sitter and painter were mutually attracted, and within a few months became man and wife. The handsome fortune she brought her husband was by no means her only recommendation. The marriage was thoroughly happy. After their marriage the couple lived for a time at Deanhaugh House, a legacy to Mrs. Raeburn from her first husband. It was afterwards taken down to make room for the extension of Leslie Place.
Sir Joshua generously recognised the Scottish painter's talent, and strongly advised him to study for a time in Rome, directing his attention more particularly to the works of MichaelAngelo in the Sistine Chapel. In after years Raeburn was fond of describing how Sir Joshua, taking him aside at their parting, said, 'Young man, I know nothing of your circumstances; young painters are seldom rich; but if money be necessary for your studies abroad, say so, and you shall not want it.'
After two years of steady work in Rome, he returned to Edinburgh in 1787, and set up his easel in a new studio in George Street. There he soon found himself in the full tide of popularity. David Martin, his former patron, was his only serious rival, as he was also, perhaps, the only person who professed to believe that 'the lad in George Street painted better before he went to Rome.'
Raeburn's career of some thirty years as a fashionable portrait-painter was one of unbroken professional and social success. His fine presence, genial manners, shrewd sense, and great conversational powers made him a welcome guest in the brilliant society of his day. A complete collection of his works would make a Scottish national portrait gallery of ideal quality 'a whole army of wise, grave, humorous, capable, or beautiful countenances, painted simply and strongly by a man of genuine instinct.' Robertson, Hume, Monboddo, Boswell, Adam Smith, Braxfield, Christopher North, Lord Newton, Dugald Stewart, John Erskine, Jeffrey, and Walter Scott were of the company, to name but the more famous. Burns is almost the only notable absentee from the roll of his sitters.
(Raeburn, Henry by Walter Armstrong at WIKISOURCE)

James Hutton (1726 - 1797)
Oil on canvas, about 1776
Credit Purchased with the aid of The Art Fund
and the National Heritage Memorial Fund 1986
National Galleries of Scotland

Hutton (above) is considered to be the founder of modern geology. His 'Theory of the Earth', (presented as a paper to the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1785) showed that the continents are gradually worn away over vast stretches of time to form new continents on the sea floor and that there was 'no vestige of a beginning - no prospect of an end' to the physical history of the earth . The manuscript on the table is probably Hutton's 'Theory of the Earth' and Raeburn has also include geological specimens, including fossils, on the table top.
(National Galleries of Scotland)

Rear-Admiral Charles Inglis (c. 1731 - 1791)
Oil on canvas, about 1783/1795
Credit Sir John Douglas Don-Wauchope Bequest 1951
National Galleries of Scotland

The youngest son of Sir John Inglis of Cramond, Charles (above) entered the navy at around the age of fourteen and served with distinction against both the French and Spaniards between 1757 and 1782. Settling nearing Edinburgh in 1783, he saw no further service in the navy but was promoted to rear-admiral a year before his death. Originally painted in about 1783, this portrait showed Inglis wearing the full dress uniform of a captain with his right hand resting on a cannon. However, presumably at the request of a member of the Inglis family, around four years after the sitter’s death Raeburn repainted the portrait to show him in the dress uniform of a rear-admiral - including gold epaulettes which were only introduced in 1795.
(National Galleries of Scotland)

Niel Gow (1727 - 1807)
Violinist and composer
Oil on canvas, 1787
Credit Purchased 1886
National Galleries of Scotland

Niel Gow (above), Scotland's most famous fiddler and composer of strathspeys and reels, lived in the cottage where he had been born, just outside Dunkeld in Perthshire, but travelled all over the country playing at balls and festivities. He was known for accompanying his playing with an occasional sudden shout, which would startle and excite the dancers. The poet Robert Burns visited Gow the year this portrait was painted, was struck by the sitter's open heartedness and honest, simple appearance.
(National Galleries of Scotland)

Portrait of Sir John Sinclair
Oil on canvas, 1794-1795
National Gallery of Scotland (Edinburgh, UK)
From ARC

Sir John Sinclair (above), 1st Baronet (10 May 1754 – 21 December 1835) was a Scottish politician, writer on finance and agriculture and the first person to use the word statistics in the English language, in his vast, pioneering work, Statistical Account of Scotland, in 21 volumes. Sinclair was the eldest son of George Sinclair of Ulbster, a member of the family of the Earls of Caithness, and was born at Thurso Castle, Thurso, Caithness. After studying at the University of Edinburgh, University of Glasgow and Trinity College, Oxford, he was admitted to the Faculty of Advocates in Scotland, and called to the English bar, but never practised. In 1780, he was returned to the British House of Commons for Caithness constituency, and subsequently represented several English constituencies, his parliamentary career extending, with few interruptions, until 1811. Sinclair established at Edinburgh a society for the improvement of British wool, and was mainly instrumental in the creation of the Board of Agriculture, of which he was the first president. His reputation as a financier and economist had been established by the publication, in 1784, of his History of the Public Revenue of the British Empire; in 1793 widespread ruin was prevented by the adoption of his plan for the issue of Exchequer Bills; and it was on his advice that, in 1797, Pitt issued the "loyalty loan" of eighteen millions for the prosecution of the war.
A man of many interests and a good conversationalist, Raeburn became a popular member of the new cultured Edinburgh society. By about 1790 he had painted the portrait of his wife (Countess Mountbatten Collection) and the double portrait of Sir John and Lady Clerk (Sir Alfred Beit Collection), 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 (above) which foreshadowed The MacNab (c. 1803-13; John Dewar and Sons, Ltd., London), in which tonalities became darker and lighting more contrasted.
(Web Gallery of Art)

Robert Macqueen, Lord Braxfield (1722 - 1799)
Lord Justice-Clerk
Oil on canvas, about 1798
Credit Purchased 1954
National Galleries of Scotland

Lord Braxfield (above) was said to be the best lawyer in Scotland, an expert in intricate legal questions arising out of the 1745 Rising. His later fame owes more to his reputation as a 'hanging judge'. Reactionary in politics and a hard drinker, he was notorious for uttering such memorable phrases as 'Hang a thief when he's young, and he'll no steal when he's auld'. Raeburn painted Braxfield when he was dying, and little more than a shadow of the man described in his prime as being like 'a formidable blacksmith'.
(National Galleries of Scotland)

William Forbes of Callendar (1756 – 1823)
Coppersmith and landowner
Oil on canvas, 1798
Credit Long loan in 1984
National Galleries of Scotland

Forbes (above) was a self-made man. The son of an Aberdeen merchant, he began work as a coppersmith and won a government contract to sheath ships' hulls in copper. With the fortune he made, he purchased the estates of Callendar and Linlithgow near Falkirk, which had been forfeited by the Jacobite Earl of Linlithgow after the 1715 Rising. He bought the estates at auction and is said to have astounded bystanders by producing a banknote for £100,000, specially printed for the occasion. Forbes paid sixty guineas (£63) for this portrait, one of Raeburn's finest full-lengths. The artist advised him to hang the picture 5 feet above the floor (2 feet higher than it actually is) and said that it was best viewed at a distance of 22 feet (about 6.5 metres).
(National Galleries of Scotland)

Colonel Alexander Campbell of Possil
Oil painting, 1805
From Wikipedia

Colonel Alexander Campbell of Possil (above) entered the army as an Ensign in the 42nd Regiment in April 1769, and obtained a Lieutenancy in the 2nd Battalion Royals the following year in Minorca. He moved to the 62nd regiment later that year in Ireland, and went with the regiment to Canada, where, as a captain of Light Infantry under General Carleton, he fought in the campaigns of 1776 and 1777 with General Burgoyne. After the surrender of Saratoga he was sent to New York, with the rank of Major, and was appointed to the 1st Battalion of Light Infantry. He received the Lieu-Colonelcy of the 62nd Regiment in 1782, and soon afterwards he returned to Scotland, where he remained with his regiment until 1789. He served with the Duke of York in the 1790s and was given the rank of Colonel on 1 October 1793. He raised the 16th Regiment in 1794 and was their first Brigadier-General. He was sent to the West Indies under Sir Ralph Abercromby and on 10 November 1796 was appointed Colonel of the 7th West India Regiment. He returned to Scotland at the end of the 1790s and was placed on the Staff in Ireland and Scotland for five years. On 11 July 1804 he was appointed Colonel of the 19th Foot and served during the battles in South Africa being present at the capture of the Cape of Good Hope in 1806.

Major William Clunes
Oil on canvas , about 1809 – 1811
Credit Bequest of Lady Siemens to the RSA 1902
National Galleries of Scotland

Clunes (abovea) is believed to have been a native of Sutherland. He joined the 50th (West Kent) Regiment of Foot in 1790, where he became lieutenant in 1794 and captain in 1797. From 1807, he served in the Peninsular War against France under Sir John Moore. In July 1809 he was promoted to major in the 54th (West Norfolk) Regiment of Foot, and it is the uniform of this post that he is shown wearing in this portrait. This portrait is believed to have been painted between his appointment as major in 1809 and the end of his active army service around 1811-12. Raeburn’s great equestrian portraits suggest that he was familiar with similar portraits by Sir Joshua Reynolds, which he may have known through engraved reproductions.
(National Galleries of Scotland)

Elizabeth Hamilton
Writer and educationalist
Oil on canvas, about 1812
National Galleries of Scotland

Elizabeth Hamilton (above) was a writer whose most successful novel 'The Cottagers of Glenburnie' (1808) drew on her knowledge of life in rural central Scotland. She was very interested in advancing education for women, and helped to found the Female House of Industry in Edinburgh. Raeburn's portrait suggests that we are engaged in a friendly conversation with Mrs Hamilton. She seems to have paused in mid-sentence, with her lips slightly parted, as she absent-mindedly plays with a snuff box.
(National Galleries of Scotland)

Portrait of General, the Rt Hon Sir George Murray GCB, PC
Colonial Secretary 1828 -1830
Oil on Canvas, 1830
Commenced by Sir Henry Raeburn
completed by William Pickersgill
Restored by Delville Smith
Location: Upper Foyer, Perth Town Hall
From Heritage pertH

In 1979, the Lord Provost of Scotland loaned the early 19th-century portrait of Sir George Murray (above) to the City of Perth to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Foundation of Perth. Sir George Murray was one of the most important figures in the founding of the Swan River Colony and the Town of Perth; indeed, Perth was named in honour of Sir George’s family seat. Known as “the greatest brain on the Peninsula after Wellington”, Sir George Murray was born at the family seat in Perthshire in 1772, and received his high school and university education in Edinburgh. After leaving university for a military career at seventeen, he rapidly rose through the ranks. During his time in the military, Murray served at many of the major British campaigns including encounters in France, Ireland, Sweden, Portugal, Spain, the West Indies, Denmark, and Egypt. In 1828 Murray resigned from the command of the army and became a statesman in the office of Privy Councillor, Secretary of State for War and the Colonies and Master General of the Ordnance.
(Heritage pertH)

Alasdair Ranaldson MacDonell of Glengarry
National Gallery of Scotland
From Wikimedia

Colonel Alasdair Ranaldson MacDonell of Glengarry (above) was a personality well known to Walter Scott, a haughty and flamboyant man whose character and behaviour gave Scott the model for the wild Highland clan chieftain Fergus Mac-Ivor in the pioneering historical novel Waverley of 1810. As was customary for the chieftain of a clan, he was often called simply "Glengarry". He was born on 15 September 1773 and became the 15th chief of Clan MacDonell of Glengarry in 1788, and in 1794 he raised troops for a regiment of Fencibles. As part of their uniform he invented (or adopted) the Glengarry, a type of cap which he wears in his portrait. The boat-shaped cap without a peak is made of thick-milled woollen material with a toorie (or bobble) on top and ribbons hanging down behind, capable of being folded flat. It has become part of the uniform of a number of Scottish regiments, with variations in the band around above the brim and in the colours. He bitterly feuded with Thomas Telford and the Commissioners of the Caledonian Canal as it was being constructed through his land, though he collected useful dues from them. Glengarry considered himself the last genuine specimen of a Highland chief, always wore the Highland dress (kilt or trews) and in the style of his ancestors seldom travelled without being followed by his "tail", servants in full Highland dress with weaponry who had traditional duties like carrying his sword and shield, standing sentinel, acting as bard and carrying him dry across streams. He was a member of the Highland Society of Scotland and the Celtic Society of Edinburgh, and in June 1815 he formed his own Society of True Highlanders, subsequently leaving the Celtic Society and complaining that "their general appearance is assumed and fictitious, and they have no right to burlesque the national character or dress of Highlands". His mortification at the acceptance of Lowlanders became bitter complaint about the prominent role the Celtic Society had in the visit of King George IV to Scotland, and he made several unauthorised and flamboyant appearances during the visit, to the annoyance of Walter Scott and the other organisers but causing only mild amusement to the King.

Henry Mackenzie
Source National Portrait Gallery, London
From Wikimedia

Henry Mackenzie (1745 - 1831) was a Scottish novelist and miscellaneous writer. He was also known by the sobriquet "Addison of the North." Mackenzie had attempted to interest publishers in what would become his first and most famous work, The Man of Feeling, for several years, but they would not even accept it as a gift. Finally, Mackenzie published it anonymously in 1771, and it became instantly successful. The "Man of Feeling" is a weak creature, dominated by a futile benevolence, who goes up to London and falls into the hands of people who exploit his innocence. The sentimental key in which the book is written shows the author's acquaintance with Sterne and Richardson, but he had neither the humour of Sterne nor the subtle insight into character of Richardson. A clergyman from Bath named Eccles claimed authorship of the book, bringing in support of his pretensions a manuscript full of changes and erasures. Mackenzie's name was then officially announced, but Eccles appears to have induced some people to believe in him. In 1773 Mackenzie published a second novel, The Man of the World, the hero of which was as consistently bad as the "Man of Feeling" had been "constantly obedient to his moral sense," as Sir Walter Scott says. Julia de Roubigné (1777) is an epistolary novel.

John Home
Source National Portrait Gallery, London
From Wikipedia

The Works of John Home were collected and published by Henry Mackenzie in 1822 with "An Account of the Life and Writings of Mr John House," which also appeared separately in the same year, but several of his smaller poems seem to have escaped the editor's observation. These are--"The Fate of Caesar," "Verses upon Inveraray," "Epistle to the Earl of Eglintoun," "Prologue on the Birthday of the Prince of Wales, 1759" and several "Epigrams," which are printed in vol. ii. of Original Poems by Scottish Gentlemen (1762). See also Sir W Scott, "The Life and Works of John Home" in the Quarterly Review (June, 1827). Douglas is included in numerous collections of British drama. Voltaire published his Le Gaffe, ou l'Ecossaise (1760), Londres (really Geneva), as a translation from the work of Hume, described as pasteur de l'église d'Edimbourg, but Home seems to have taken no notice of the mystification. Home was also an active participant in the social life of Edinburgh, and joined the Poker Club in 1762.

Captain Hay of Spot
Oil on canvas
Musée du Louvre, Paris
From Web Gallery of Art

Mrs. Colin Campbell of Park
Oil on canvas
Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum
Glasgow, United Kingdom
From ARC

Alexander Keith Of Ravelston, Midlothian
Oil on canvas
Private collection
From ARC

Lady Anne Torphicen
Oil on canvas
Public collection
From ARC

Raeburn was in love with his daily task. He used to declare portrait-painting to be the most delightful thing in the world, for everyone, he said, came to him in the happiest of moods and with the pleasantest of faces. It is significant, too, of the generous temper he showed to his brother-artists that he described his profession as one that leads neither to discords nor disputes. Of his habits Allan Cunningham gives an interesting account: 'The movements of the artist were as regular as those of a clock. He rose at seven during summer, took breakfast about eight with his wife and children, walked into George Street, and was ready for a sitter by nine; and of sitters he generally had for many years not fewer than three or four a day. To these he gave an hour and a half each. He seldom kept a sitter more than two hours, unless the person happened and that was often the case to be gifted with more than common talents. He then felt himself happy, and never failed to detain the one client till the arrival of another intimated that he must be gone. For a head size he generally required four or five sittings; and he preferred painting the head and hands to any other part of the body, assigning as a reason that they required least consideration. A fold of drapery or the natural ease which the casting of a mantle over the shoulder demanded occasioned him more perplexing study than a head full of thought and imagination. Such was the intuition with which he penetrated at once to the mind that the first sitting rarely came to a close without his having seized strongly on the character and disposition of the individual. He never drew in his heads, or indeed any part of the body, with chalk a system pursued successfully by Lawrence but began with the brush at once. The forehead, chin, nose, and mouth were his first touches. He always painted standing, and never used a stick for resting his hand on; for such was his accurateness of eye and steadiness of nerve that he could introduce the most delicate touches, or the most mechanical regularity of line, without aid or other contrivance than fair, off-hand dexterity. He remained in his painting-room till a little after five o'clock, when he walked home, and dined at six.'
(Henry Raeburn by Walter Armstrong at WIKISOURCE)

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