Sir Henry Raeburn
Portrait of a Lady, c. 1815
oil on canvas
76.5 x 63.7 cm
Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery; Gift of Dr. Harold and Peg Mitchell
At the height of his artistic career, Henry Raeburn was the first Scottish artist to achieve an international reputation, his closest rival being Allan Ramsay. From his humble background as an orphan at George Heriot’s Hospital in Edinburgh, Raeburn eventually secured his place as one of the most sought-after portrait painters in Scotland. Between 1798 and 1810, Raeburn exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy in London. In 1812 he was elected President of the Society of Artists in Scotland and was knighted by George IV (1762–1830) in 1822. In this Portrait of a Lady, Raeburn’s prowess as a gifted portraitist is confirmed, particularly in his ability to capture the personality or essence of the subject. The use of light and shadow, highlighting rich fabrics and textures, conveys a warmth and immediacy to the picture.