This thesis gives the biography of the Scottish portrait painter Sir
Henry Raeburn R.A. (1756-1823), an outline of his training, a
description of his stylistic development and a catalogue of his works.
The problem of his activities as a miniaturist is addressed: only two
are known but he is reported to have produced many. It is proposed
that mourning jewels, made when he was an apprentice goldsmith, may
have constituted part of this lost body of work. Raeburn was given
some training by David Deuchar (1743-1808), Alexander Runciman (1736-
1785) and David Martin (1737-1798). New evidence relating to Raeburn's
time with Martin is given. Raeburn's portrait George Chalmers of
Pittencrieff is not accepted as dating from before the trip to Rome.
Only one independent portrait commission is dated in the thesis to
that period. It is suggested that as an artist Raeburn was a
probationer when he left Scotland and that he rapidly matured in
Italy. He studied in Rome from 1784 - c. 1787 in the circle of James
Byres (1734-1817). An important portrait from his Roman years has been
uncovered. He returned to Scotland in about 1787 and spent his entire
career in Edinburgh. It is argued that it was his time in Italy which
formed his early style, rather than some presumed contact with the
work of Reynolds.
Raeburn's painting of c. 1800 responded to new concerns. He is also
recorded as working as an underwriter shortly after that date. For an
unknown reason the artist went bankrupt in 1808. New documents pn this
matter are presented.
An examination is made of the widely held view that Raeburn's late
style was due to a trip he made to London in 1810. Proof is given
dating from before 1810 of a move in this new artistic direction.
Those with closed minds on Raeburn, holding views formulated ninety
years ago, will not read these sections with pleasure.
The catalogue contains slightly more than eight hundred entries
dealing with almost one thousand works. Dating Raeburn's portraits is
difficult and consequently the catalogue is arranged alphabetically.
The catalogue contains entries on the copies Raeburn made after the
works of other artists and entries on works known only from archival
sources. Rejected works are not listed. The thesis does not deal with
Raeburn's influence on other painters.