About this artwork

A celebrated engineer, John Rennie was born in East Lothian. After studying at the University of Edinburgh, he worked for the engineering firm of James Watt, before starting his own business. He soon gained famed as a constructor of canals, docks, harbours and bridges. Waterloo and Southwark bridges in London were designed by him. Close to Edinburgh, Musselburgh Bridge is a fine example of his skill, remarkable for the flatness of the roadway carried over a long span. Raeburn painted him twice.

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.