About this artwork

Hutton is considered to be the founder of modern geology. His 'Theory of the Earth', (presented as a paper to the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1785) showed that the continents are gradually worn away over vast stretches of time to form new continents on the sea floor and that there was 'no vestige of a beginning - no prospect of an end' to the physical history of the earth . The manuscript on the table is probably Hutton's 'Theory of the Earth' and Raeburn has also included geological specimens, including fossils, on the table top.

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.