Sir Henry Raeburn

Colonel Alastair Ranaldson Macdonell of Glengarry (1771 - 1828) (exhibited 1812)

About this artwork

Wearing tartan from head to toe, Macdonell of Glengarry seems, in this portrait, to be the perfect image of a highland chief. However, Macdonell's romantic attachment to the customs and costumes of Gaelic culture did not stop him evicting his tenants to clear his lands for sheep farming. The writer Sir Walter Scott was a close friend, and he was probably thinking of Macdonell when he created the character of the doomed Jacobite clan chieftain, Fergus McIvor, in his novel Waverley.

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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.