Sir Henry Raeburn (1756 -1823) was a successful Scottish portrait painter who lived in Edinburgh. His works are characterized by strong characterization, stark realism, and dramatic lighting effects. He typically employed clashing color combinations, and a course modeling technique. Our pattern set includes many of his portraits, including his most recognized work, The Skating Minister. Other portraits include Boy and Rabbit, Alexander Ranaldson MacDonell of Glengarry, Sir Walter Scott, Mrs. Robert Scott Moncrieff, and Sir John Sinclair. There is also a self portrait included in the set.

Patterns Included In This Set:


The Skating Minister

Alexander Ranaldson MacDonell of Glengarry

Portrait of Janet Dundas


Portrait of John Playfair

Boy and Rabbit

Rev. Alexander Carlyle


Portrait of Mrs Anne Hart

Portrait of William Blair

Portrait of Sir John Sinclair


Portrait of Walter Scott

Portrait of Robert McQueen - Lord Braxfield

Portrait of General Sir William Maxwell


Portrait of Miss. Eleanor Urquhart

Lieutenant General William Stuart

Portrait of Margaret Ann Forbes Dummund


Mrs. Colin Campbell of Park

Peter Van Brugh Livingston

The Binning Children


Portrait of Colonel Francis James Scott

David Anderson

Portrait of John Tait and His Grandson


The Archers

Portrait of Mrs E. Bethune

Portrait of Viscount Melville


Jacobina Copland

Portrait of Mrs. Andrew Hay

Portrait of Mrs. Robert Scott Moncrieff


The MacNab

Portrait of Neil Gow

Sir John and Lady Clerk of Penicuik


Self Portrait

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Sir Henry Raeburn (4 March 1756 - 8 July 1823) was a goldsmith’s apprentice turned portrait painter by a twist of fate.

Born in Stockbridge, Scotland, Raeburn was the son of a manufacturer. Unfortunately, he was orphaned at a young age. Being raised in Heriots Hospital allowed the future artist to receive a basic education and, at the age of 15, become an apprentice for a local goldsmith. During this time, Raeburn learned how to cast rings and small bits of jewelry. These works gradually moved him into the realm of producing miniature portraits which gained him enough success to expand his trades. Eventually, Raeburn found his desire and talent was for painting oil portraits.

At the interest of his goldsmith mentor, the young painter was introduced to David Martin. Martin was an assistant to Scottish portrait painter Allan Ramsay, as well as to the leading portrait painter in Edinburgh. Because he had numerous portraits in his portfolio, Martin allowed Henry to borrow his work so he could copy them and develop his skills as a painter. It was from this practice that Raeburn became fluent in his style and method of painting, allowing him to pursue oil painting exclusively and leave his previous work as a goldsmith.

In a sense, Henry Raeburn was a self-taught oil painter who, by his early 20’s, was known as an artist with significant skill in this area. His success at such a young age is an extraordinary example of sheer genius, especially given the quality and notoriety of his works.

Being asked to paint the portrait of a young lady he had previously seen while he was in the fields sketching landscapes was an event that added to Raeburn’s success as an artist. The young woman, Anne, became totally engrossed with the talented and intellectual painter.

Anne was a young woman with a lot of money. She was the daughter of Peter Edgar of Bridgelands, as well as the widow of the wealthy Count Leslie. Henry and Anne wed within a month of meeting, but the newfound fortune and riches did not affect Henry’s perception of his work or the characteristics of his style. It did, however, propel him into studying and learning more about his craft.

During this era, traveling was a common way an artist could ensure exposure to other dimensions of art, as well as to expand the horizons of his or her work. In this tradition, the newly married Raeburn couple traveled to Italy so Henry could advance his skill. After arriving and spending some time studying and working in Italy, the pair went to London. This is where Raeburn developed a relationship with Sir Joshua Reynolds, the president of the Royal Academy. It was Reynolds who advised Henry to go and study in Rome - such a sojourn would expose him to the works of great artists such as Michelangelo.

Once in Rome, Henry met with Scot Gavin Hamilton of the antique dealer Pompeo Girolamo Batoni and Byers. Hamilton’s advice to Henry took his career to another level. He told the young artist that, he should never copy an object from memory, but, from the principal figure to the minutest accessory, have it placed before him."

Henry and Anne returned to Edinburgh in 1787 after two years of study in Italy, London, and Rome. At this time Raeburn started what would become a very successful career in portrait painting. One of his first notable portraits was of Lord President Dundas who was painted in a royal, seated position. It was because of important jobs like this that Sir Henry Raeburn was able to return from his study abroad with great acclaim for his works. Raeburn’s career began to take off from this springboard of notoriety, making him one of the most renowned portrait artists of all time. Henry’s approach to painting helped drive the art world from the period of Romanticism to Impressionism, a major leap forward in the evolution of art.

Sir Henry Raeburn died on July 8th, 1823 in St. Bernard’s house in Stockbridge, Edinburgh. His memorial is in the Church of St. John the Evangelist in Edinburgh.

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