About this artwork

Francis Horner trained as a lawyer but his real interests were politics and economics. With his contemporaries Henry Brougham, Francis Jeffrey and Sydney Smith, he founded a quarterly magazine, the Edinburgh Review, for which he wrote many articles on subjects such as currency and trade. In 1806 he was elected to the House of Commons as MP for St Ives. Liberal in outlook and a member of the whig circles around Lord Holland, Horne opposed the Corn Laws, championed Catholic emancipation and urged the abolition of the slave trade. His brother, Leonard, a geologist, commissioned a portrait of him by Raeburn in 1812 which is now in the National Portrait Gallery, London. This is a smaller, later, version by the artist.

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.