Sir Henry Raeburn

All Sources -
Updated Media sources (1) About content Print Topic Share Topic
views updated

Sir Henry Raeburn (rā´bərn), 1756–1823, Scottish portrait painter, b. near Edinburgh. He was apprenticed to a goldsmith at 15 and he showed considerable talent. In 1784 he went to London and there met Reynolds, who greatly influenced him. After living for two years in Italy, where he developed his virtuoso brush technique, Raeburn returned to Edinburgh in 1787. Establishing himself in that city, he portrayed the prominent persons of his native Scotland. His work was in constant demand, and he enjoyed many honors, including knighthood (1822). His portraits number over 700. At its best, Raeburn's work is distinguished by forcefulness, technical finesse, and a direct approach achieved without preliminary drawings. He is best represented in the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, which contains, among many others, his self-portrait and portraits of Mrs. Campbell, Dr. Adam, and Lord Newton. The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Frick Collection in New York City and the Huntington Art Gallery in San Marino, Calif., have examples of his work.

See biographies by E. R. Dibdin (1925) and J. Seligman (1938).

views updated

Raeburn, Sir Henry (1756–1823). Raeburn was born and worked all his life in Edinburgh. He was the leading Scottish portrait painter of his day, recording many of the personalities of the city and a number of Highland chieftains before the time of depopulation and emigration. Largely self-taught, he visited London in 1784 on his way to study in Italy and met Reynolds, whose style influenced him in a way that his Italian experience did not. Having married a wealthy widow in 1780, he added to their fortune by buying land on the outskirts of Edinburgh which he developed speculatively. In 1812 he was elected ARA and a full RA three years later. In 1822, when George IV visited Edinburgh, he knighted Raeburn, creating him king's limner and painter for Scotland the following year. Raeburn's portraits of Mrs Scott-Moncrieff and of the Revd Robert Walker skating on Duddingston Loch are among many of his works in the National Gallery of Scotland.

June Cochrane