Sir Henry Raeburn
Scottish, 1756-1823
Collected by major museums
Tate, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields

As Scotland’s foremost portrait painter during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Henry Raeburn created works characterized by a unique style and personal technique forged through his own self-instruction. Although early training involved copying the paintings of a portraitist in his native Edinburgh, Raeburn never set foot inside the artist’s studio or an academy. In 1778, Raeburn’s marriage to a wealthy widow granted him the financial security to travel and expand his skills, and he would consequently visit Italy, Rome, and London—the latter where he became acquainted with Sir Joshua Reynolds, the president of the Royal Academy. On his return to Edinburgh, Raeburn was popularly received and would later be knighted by George IV and appointed as the king’s painter. In his best known works, Raeburn placed impressionistic Scottish landscapes as backdrops for his figures, …

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