Reproductions RAEBURN, Sir Henry

Sir Henry Raeburn

1756 - 1823

Scotish Artist

Sir Henry Raeburn Biography

Born in the Stockbridge area of Edinburgh on 4 March, 1756, Raeburn was educated at George Heriot's and initially became an apprenticed goldsmith in the city in 1772. But he started painting water-colour miniatures of his friends and later began painting portraits in oils. He came to the notice of David Martin who was at that time the leading portrait painter in Edinburgh.

In 1778 he married a widow with independent means, which allowed Raeburn to spend more time on painting. He was advised by Joshua Reynolds to go to Italy and he spent time in Rome between 1785-86. On his return to Edinburgh he began to paint all the most notable Scotsmen (and Scotswomen) of his day. He developed from bust-sized figures to full length portraits. His reputation also spread from Edinburgh to London.

He moved into a studio in 32 York Place in the centre of Edinburgh in 1798 - the high windows which he installed to give him as much daylight as possible, are there to this day. The National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh are rich in his works. In particular, his portraits of Mrs James Campbell, Sir Walter Scott and Sir John Sinclair are highly regarded. Perhaps these days he is best remembered for his portrait of "Rev Robert Walker Skating". He also painted two Highland chieftains - "MacDonell of Glengarry" and "The McNab" embodying the romantic ideals of his day. Raeburn was elected to the Royal Academy in 1815 and was knighted in 1822 (at Hopetoun House, during the visit of King George IV to Scotland).

Raeburn died on 8 July 1823, having spent most of his working life in Scotland.