portrait of a young gentleman c1805 circle of sir henry raeburn

Portrait of a Young Gentleman c.1805; Circle of Sir Henry Raeburn.



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Oil on canvas in original giltwood frame.
In this portrait the light that falls right to left across the sitter's face emphasises the modelling to suggest strength of character and purpose, and with the tousled hair creates a sense of drama. Raeburn's portraits have an understated beauty and sheer physical presence, with a dynamic, romantic quality that matched the spirit of the times.
These, along with an innate grasp of likeness, are the qualities that assured Raeburn's popularity with the gentry of his native Scotland and then - as his reputation spread - with London society.
SIR HENRY RAEBURN (1756-1823) was born the son of a manufacturer in Stockbridge, on the Water of Leith; a former village now within the city of Edinburgh. Orphaned, he was supported by his older brother and placed in Heriot's Hospital, where he received an education. At the age of fifteen he was apprenticed to the goldsmith James Gilliland of Edinburgh, Soon he took to the production of carefully finished portrait miniatures; meeting with success and patronage, he extended his practice to oil painting, at which he was self-taught.
Gilliland watched the progress of his pupil with interest, and introduced him to David Martin, who had been the favourite assistant of Allan Ramsay the Latter, and was now the leading portrait painter in Edinburgh. Raeburn soon he gained sufficient skill to make him decide to devote himself exclusively to painting.
Raeburn spent his life in Edinburgh, rarely visiting London, and then only for brief periods, thus preserving his individuality. Scottish art gained much from his disinclination to leave his native land. He became the acknowledged chief of the school which was growing up in Scotland during the earlier years of the 19th century, and his example and influence at a critical period were of major importance.
In 1812 he was elected president of the Society of Artists in Edinburgh, in 1814 Associate, and in the following year full Member of the Royal Scottish Academy. On 29 August 1822 he was knighted by George IV and appointed His Majesty's Limner for Scotland at the Earl of Hopetoun house. He died in Edinburgh.
Raeburn had all the essential qualities of a popular and successful portrait painter. He was able to produce a telling and forcible likeness; his work is distinguished by powerful characterisation, stark realism, dramatic and unusual lighting effects.
SIZE: 38.5 x 33.75 inches inc. frame.
PROVENANCE: Private Collection, Dorset
Internal Ref: 8911

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