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Sir Henry Raeburn, Portrait of The Rt.Hon. Robert Blair of Avontoun

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Raeburn, Sir Henry 1756–1823, Scottish portrait painter, b. near Edinburgh. He was apprenticed to a goldsmith at 15 and he showed considerable talent. In 1784 he went to London and there met Reynolds, who greatly influenced him. After living for two years in Italy, where he developed his virtuoso brush technique, Raeburn returned to Edinburgh in 1787. Establishing himself in that city, he portrayed the prominent persons of his native Scotland. His work was in constant demand, and he enjoyed many honors, including knighthood (1822). His portraits number over 700. At its best, Raeburn's work is distinguished by forcefulness, technical finesse, and a direct approach achieved without preliminary drawings. He is best represented in the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, which contains, among many others, his self-portrait and portraits of Mrs. Campbell, Dr. Adam, and Lord Newton. The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Frick Collection in New York City and the Huntington Art Gallery in San Marino, Calif., have examples of his work.

Used with permission. The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. Copyright © 2001 Columbia University Press