About this artwork

Elizabeth Hamilton was a writer whose most successful novel ' The Cottagers of Glenburnie' (1808) drew on her knowledge of life in rural central Scotland. She was very interested in advancing education for women, and helped to found the Female House of Industry in Edinburgh. Raeburn's portrait suggests that we are engaged in a friendly conversation with Mrs Hamilton. She seems to have paused in mid-sentence, with her lips slightly parted, as she absent-mindedly plays with a snuff box

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.