About this artwork

Scott's historical novels were read and admired throughout Europe. Those which dealt with Scottish themes, like Heart of Midlothian and Waverley, have had a major influence on how Scots see their own past and on how Scotland is viewed from outside. This portrait was one of the last Raeburn ever worked on, the artist dying only days after its completion. Scott, however, is shown at the peak of his career. Within four years he was bankrupt, and his health was destroyed from the need to write his way out of debt.

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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.

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