About this artwork

Carlyle was a quintessential figure of the Scottish Enlightenment. For over fifty years he was the minister of Inveresk, five miles south-east of Edinburgh, but, in addition to his pastoral duties, he was an active participant in the intellectual life of the capital. He counted David Hume and Adam Smith as friends and was an early member of the city's debating club, the Select Society. His active promotion of liberal cultural values caused conflict with less moderate members of the Church of Scotland. Carlyle had a commanding physical presence, tall and handsome. Sir Walter Scott called him 'the grandest demigod I ever saw'. His autobiography, published long after his death, is considered one of the best memoirs of the period.

Sir Henry Raeburn

Sir Henry Raeburn

Originally apprenticed to a goldsmith, Henry Raeburn showed enormous artistic talent as a young man. In 1784 he moved to London where he met the important portrait painter Joshua Reynolds. He spent some time in Italy but returned to Edinburgh in 1787 where he began painting portraits of the rich, famous and important people of his day. He was in constant demand and received many honours: in 1822 he was knighted when the King visited Edinburgh. Sir Henry Raeburn died a year later.