Sir Henry Raeburn (1756-1823)

Sir Henry Raeburn (1756-1823)

Portrait painter

Henry Raeburn was the son of an Edinburgh manufacturer. His father died when he was very young, and he was raised by his elder brother. He was apprenticed to a goldsmith aged 15 and it was at this time he started painting watercolour miniatures of his friends. His marriage in 1778 to a wealthy widow, Ann Leslie, allowed him to concentrate on a career as an artist. Joshua Reynolds convinced Henry to study in Rome. He returned to Edinburgh in 1787 and spent 30 years painting influential members of Edinburgh society, including Sir Walter Scott, Adam Ferguson and David Hume. He was knighted in 1822.

Testament of Sir Henry Raeburn

(National Records of Scotland, SC70/1/31 pp 244-247)

Sir Henry died intestate at his home of St Bernards. The inventory of his estate, which was administerd by his son, Henry, lists many payments owing by the rich and famous for their portraits.

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