About this artwork

Niel Gow, Scotland's most famous fiddler and composer of strathspeys and reels, lived in the cottage where he had been born, just outside Dunkeld in Perthshire, but travelled all over the country playing at balls and festivities. He was known for accompanying his playing with an occasional sudden shout, which would startle and excite the dancers. The poet Robert Burns visited Gow the year this portrait was painted, was struck by the sitter's open heartedness and honest, simple appearance,

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.