Record

CodeNA6734
Dates1756-1823
Person NameRaeburn; Henry (1756-1823); Sir; portrait painter
SurnameRaeburn
ForenamesHenry
TitleSir
Epithetportrait painter
ActivitySir Henry Raeburn (1756-1823), portrait painter, was the son of Robert Raeburn, an Edinburgh millowner, and Ann Elder. His parents had both died by the time he was twelve so he was brought up by his older brother, William (d 1788). Henry was educated at Heriot's Hospital until 1771, and then apprenticed to Gilliland, a goldsmith and jeweller. By the age of 16 the watercolour miniatures which he had made of his friends were begining to attract attention and Gilliland introduced him to the portrait painter, David Martin who allowed him to copy in his studio. Striking out on his own Raeburn began to practice with oil paints and to concentrate on portraits. Raeburn met an fell in love with Ann (d 1833), the widow of a Frenchman, Count Leslie, who had three children. Although older than him theirs was a happy marriage and she is remembered in the name of Ann Street, Edinburgh. They had two sons.

His contemporary, Sir Joshua Reynolds, gave Raeburn introductions to the leading members of society in Rome and he spent two years working there, 1785-1787. He returned to Edinburgh and set up in a studio in George Street. On his brother's death in 1788, Raeburn inherited the house and property in Stockbridge. His studio in George Street became too small and he built a large gallery and work room in York Place. Raeburn sent his first contribution to the English academy and was elected and made an associate in 1814. In 1822 he was knighted and the following year was appointed 'his majesty's first limner and painter in Scotland'. In 1823, after a brief illness, he died. He is estimated to have produced about 600 portraits.
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