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Title: Raeburn
Author: Caw, J. L. (James Lewis), Sir, 1864-1950
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Raeburn" ***

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[Illustration: Cover art]



  MASTERPIECES
  IN COLOUR
  EDITED BY --
  T. LEMAN HARE



RAEBURN

1756-1823



=====================================================================

PLATE I.--LORD NEWTON (Frontispiece).

(National Gallery of Scotland.)

This chef-d'oeuvre, which dates from about 1807, represents one of the
most celebrated characters who ever sat upon the bench of the Court of
Session.  Famous in his day for "law, paunch, whist, claret, and
worth," the exploits of Charles Hay, "The Mighty," as he was called,
have become traditions of the Parliament House.  (See p. 79.)

[Illustration: Plate I.]

=====================================================================


RAEBURN



BY JAMES L. CAW


ILLUSTRATED WITH EIGHT

REPRODUCTIONS IN COLOUR



[Illustration: Title page art]



LONDON: T. C. & E. C. JACK

NEW YORK: FREDERICK A. STOKES CO.

1909



CONTENTS

  Introduction
  Chapter I.
     "   II.
     "  III.
     "   IV.
     "    V.
     "   VI.



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


Plate

    I. Lord Newton . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Frontispiece
         (National Gallery of Scotland)

   II. Children of Mr and the Hon. Mrs Paterson of Castle Huntly
         (In the possession of Chas. J. G. Paterson, Esq.)

  III. Mrs Lauzun
         (National Gallery, London)

   IV. Mrs Campbell of Balliemore
         (National Gallery of Scotland)

    V. Professor Robison
         (University of Edinburgh)

   VI. John Tait of Harvieston and his Grandson
         (In the possession of Mrs Pitman)

  VII. Miss de Vismes
         (In the possession of the Earl of Mansfield)

 VIII. Mrs Scott Moncrieff
         (National Gallery of Scotland)



[Illustration: Raeburn]

When in 1810, Henry Raeburn, then at the height of his powers, proposed
to settle in London, Lawrence dissuaded him.  It is unnecessary, as it
would be unjust, to insinuate that the future President of the Royal
Academy had ulterior and personal motives in urging him to rest content
with his supremacy in the North.  Raeburn was fifty-five at the time,
and, after his undisputed reign at home, even his generous nature might
have taken ill with the competition inseparable from such a venture.
Lawrence's advice was wise in many ways, and Raeburn, secure in the
admiration and constant patronage of his countrymen, lived his life to
the end unvexed by the petty jealousy of inferior rivals.  Nor was
recognition confined to Scotland.  Ultimately he was elected a member
of the Royal Academy, an honour all the more valued because
unsolicited.  Yet, had the courtly Lawrence but known, acceptance of
his advice kept a greater than himself from London, and, it may be,
prevented the perpetuation and further development of that tradition of
noble portraiture of which Raeburn, with personal modifications, was
such a master.  For long also it confined the Scottish painter's
reputation to his own country.  Forty years after his death, his art
was so little known in England that the Redgraves, in their admirable
history of English painting, relegated him to a chapter headed "The
Contemporaries of Lawrence."  Time brings its revenges, however, and of
late years Raeburn has taken a place in the very front rank of British
painters.  And, if this recognition has been given tardily by English
critics, the reason is to be found in want of acquaintance with his
work.  He had lived and painted solely in Scotland, and Scottish art,
like foreign art, so long as it remains at home, has little interest
for London, which, sure of its attractive power, sits arrogantly still
till art is brought to it.  But Raeburn's work possesses that inherent
power, which, seen by comprehending eyes, compels admiration.  The
Raeburn exhibition held in Edinburgh in 1876 was quite local in its
influence, but from time to time since then, at "The Old Masters" and
elsewhere, admirable examples have been shown in London; and recent
loan collections in Glasgow and Edinburgh, wherein his achievement was
very fully illustrated, were seen by large and cosmopolitan audiences.
And the better his work has become known, the more has it been
appreciated.  Collectors and galleries at home and abroad are now
anxious to secure examples; dealers are as alert to buy as they are
keen to sell; prices have risen steadily from the very modest sums of
twenty years ago until fine pictures by him fetch as much as
representative specimens of Reynolds and Gainsborough.  Fashion has had
much to do with this greatly enhanced reputation, but another, and more
commendable cause of the appreciation, not of the commercial value but
of the artistic merit of his work, lies in the fact that the qualities
which dominate it are those now held in highest esteem by artists and
lovers of art.  Isolated though he was, Raeburn expressed himself in a
manner and achieved pictorial results which make his achievement
somewhat similar in kind to that of Velasquez and Hals.

=====================================================================

PLATE II.--CHILDREN OF MR AND THE HON. MRS PATERSON OF CASTLE HUNTLY.
(Charles J. G. Paterson, Esq.)

Painted within a year or two of Raeburn's return from Italy, some
critics have seen, or thought they saw, in this picture the influence
of Michael Angelo.  Be this as it may, the handling, lighting, and tone
and disposition of the colour are eminently characteristic of much of
the work done by Raeburn about 1790.

[Illustration: Plate II.]

=====================================================================



I

If, during the last century, Scotland has shown exceptional activity in
the arts, especially in painting, and has produced a succession of
artists whose work is marked by able craftsmanship and emotional and
subjective qualities, which give it a distinctive place in modern
painting, the more than two hundred years which lay between the
Reformation and the advent of Raeburn seemed to hold little promise of
artistic development.  During the Middle Ages and the renaissance the
internal condition of the country was too unsettled and its resources
were too meagre to make art widely possible.  Strong castles and
beautiful churches were built here and there, but intermittent war on
the borders and fear of invasion kept even the more settled central
districts in a state of unrest.  Moreover, the fierce barons were at
constant feud amongst themselves, and not infrequently the more
powerful amongst them were banded against the King.  Of the first five
Jameses only the last died, and that miserably, in his bed.  The innate
taste of the Stewarts, no doubt, created an atmosphere of culture in
the Court, and this tendency was further strengthened by commercial
relations with the Low Countries and political associations with
France.  Poetry and scholarship were encouraged, if poorly
rewarded--one remembers Dunbar's unavailing poetical pleas for a
benefice--and relics and old records show that even in those stirring
times life was not without its refinements and tasteful accessories.
Yet only in the Church or for her service was there the quietude
necessary for art work of the higher kinds.  Then came the Reformation
(during which much fine ecclesiastical furniture and decoration
perished) severing the connection of art with religion and sowing
distrust of art in any form.

Had the Union of the Crowns not taken place in 1603, it is possible
that the art of painting might have developed much earlier than it did.
No doubt that event brought healing to the long open sore caused and
inflamed by kingly ambitions and national animosities, but it removed
the Court to London, and with that some of the greatest nobles, while
the change in the religion of the ruling house from Presbyterianism to
Episcopacy, which followed, led to the Covenants and the religious
persecution, and drove the iron of ascetism into the souls of those
classes from whom artists mostly spring.  Yet the logical rigidity of
the Calvinistic spirit, while taking much of the joy out of life and
opposing its manifestation in art, had certain compensating advantages.
Disciplining the mind, quickening the reasoning powers, and cultivating
that grasp of essentials which makes for success in almost any pursuit,
and not least in art, it helped very largely to make the Scot what he
is.

During the peaceful years which immediately followed the Union, there
was considerable activity in the building of country residences.  Now
that the country was more settled these were less castles than
mansions, and the larger and better lighted apartments possible led to
a good deal of elaborate decoration.  Of this Pinkie House (1613) with
its painted gallery is perhaps the most celebrated example.  It is
difficult, however, to determine how much of this kind of work was done
by foreign, how much by native craftsmen, and as it seems to have
exerted little influence upon the one or two picture-painters who
emerged during the seventeenth century, one need not discuss the
probabilities.  So far as has been discovered, the only link between
this phase of art and the other consists of the fact that George
Jamesone (1598?-1644), the first clearly recognisable Scottish artist,
was apprenticed in 1612 to one John Andersone "paynter" in Edinburgh,
whose decoration in Gordon Castle is mentioned by an old chronicler.
As might be expected in the circumstances the "Scottish Van Dyck," as
he is fondly called, was a portrait-painter.  He was followed by a few
others, such as the Scougall family, Aikman Marshall, Wait, and the two
Alexanders, who, although neither so accomplished nor so much
appreciated as their precursor, form a never quite broken succession of
portraitists between him and Allan Ramsay (1713-84) in whose work art
in Scotland took a great step forward.[1]  A few of Ramsay's
predecessors had succeeded in supplementing the meagre instruction--if
any thing that existed could be dignified by that name--to be obtained
in Scotland by a visit to the Low Countries or Italy, but Ramsay was
the first to obtain a sound technical training.  The author of "The
Gentle Shepherd," to whom Edinburgh was indebted for its first
circulating library and its first play-house, encouraged his son's bent
for art, and after some preliminary study in London, Allan _fils_ was
sent to "The seat of the Beast" beyond the Alps, where he became a
pupil of Solimena and Imperiale and of the French Academy.  Formed
under these influences, his style possesses no clearly marked national
trait, except it be the feeling for character which informs his finer
work and makes it, in a way, a link between that of Jamesone and that
of Raeburn.  To this he added a delicate sense of tone and a tenderness
of colour and lighting, a gracefulness of drawing and a refined
accomplishment which were new in Scottish painting.  His turn for charm
of pose and grace of motive was pronounced, and his portraitures mirror
very happily the mannered yet elegant social airs of the mid-eighteenth
century.  More than that of any English painter of his day, his art
possesses "French elegance."

=====================================================================

PLATE III.--MRS LAUZUN.  (National Gallery.)

Only one of the three Raeburns in the National Gallery is an adequate
example.  This is the picture reproduced.  It was painted in 1795, and,
while very typical technically, possesses greater charm than most of
the portraits of women executed by him at that comparatively early date.

[Illustration: Plate III.]

=====================================================================

Ramsay's activity as a painter coincided with a remarkable intellectual
movement which, making itself felt in history, philosophy, science, and
political economy, raised Scotland within a few years to a conspicuous
intellectual place in Europe.  A product of the reaction which followed
the narrow and intense theological ideals which had dominated Scotland,
it was closely associated with the reign of the Moderates, who, with
their breadth of view, tolerance, and intellectual gifts had become the
most influential party in the National Church.  Offering an outlet for
the human instincts and secular activities, it possessed special
attraction for independent minds and induced boldness of speculation
and original investigation of the phenomena of history and society.
Intimate with the leaders in this movement, Ramsay, before he left
Edinburgh for London, was active in the formation (1754) of the "Select
Society," which in addition to its main object--the improvement of its
members in reasoning and eloquence--sought to encourage the arts and
sciences and to improve the material and social condition of the
people.  It was in this more genial atmosphere that Henry Raeburn was
reared.

Born in 1756, Raeburn was not too late to paint many of the most gifted
of the older generation.  David Hume, who sat to Ramsay more than once,
was dead before the new light rose above the horizon, and the
appearance of Adam Smith does not seem to be recorded except in a
Tassie medallion; but Black, the father of modern chemistry, and
Hutton, the originator of modern geology, were amongst his early
sitters; and fine works in a more mature manner have Principal
Robertson, James Watt, the engineer, Adam Ferguson, the historian,
Dugald Stewart, the philosopher, and others scarcely less interesting
for subject.  And of his own immediate contemporaries--the cycle of
Walter Scott--he has left an almost complete gallery.  Nor were his
sitters less fortunate.  If they brought fine heads to be painted, he
painted them with wonderful insight grasp of character, and great
pictorial power.



[1] J. Michael Wright (1625?-1700?), at his best probably the finest
native painter of the seventeenth century, went to England.



II.

Descended from a race of "bonnet-lairds," who took their name from a
hill farm in the Border district, Robert Raeburn, the artist's father,
seems to have come to Edinburgh as a young man in the earlier part of
the eighteenth century.  At that time the city had expanded but little
beyond the limits marked by the Flodden wall.  The high grey lands
along the windy ridge between the Castle and Holyrood were still
tenanted by the upper classes, and such extension as had been was
towards the Meadows.  The new town had not been projected even, and on
the slopes, now occupied by its spacious streets and squares,
copse-woods and grass and heather grew.  In the hollow at the foot of
these green braes, and by the side of the Water of Leith, a chain of
little hamlets--Dean, Stockbridge, and Canon-mills--nestled, and in the
mid-most of these Robert Raeburn established himself as a yarn-boiler.
Although in the country, his home was less than a mile from St Giles's
Kirk.  His business appears to have prospered, and during the early
forties he married Miss Ann Elder.  There was a difference of twelve
years in the ages of their two sons, William and Henry, and the younger
was no more than six when both father and mother died.  Left to the
care of his brother, who carried on the business, Henry Raeburn was
nominated for maintenance and education at Heriot's Hospital by Mrs
Sarah Sandilands or Durham in 1764, and remained seven years in the
school, which owed its origin to the bequest of George Heriot, jeweller
to James VI. and I. in Edinburgh and later in London.  Many boys had
been educated on "Jingling Geordie's" foundation, but Raeburn was to be
its most distinguished product.  He does not seem to have distinguished
himself specially as a scholar, however, the two prizes awarded to him
having been for writing, and at the age of fifteen or sixteen he was
apprenticed to a jeweller and goldsmith in Parliament Close.  This
choice of a calling was probably suggested by the lad's own
inclinations, but it was a stroke of good fortune that gave him James
Gilliland as a master.  No craft then practised in the Scottish capital
was so likely to have been congenial to him.  In the eighteenth century
a silversmith made as well as sold plate and ornaments, and in his
master's shop Raeburn must have learned to use his hands and may have
acquired some idea of design.  In addition Gilliland seems to have been
a man of some taste--one of his most intimate friends, David Deuchar,
the seal-engraver, devoted his leisure to etching, and executed many
plates after Holbein and the Dutch masters.  It was to the latter that
Raeburn owed his first lessons in art.  Surprising his friend's
apprentice at work on a drawing of himself, Deuchar, struck by the
talent displayed, inquired if he had had any instruction.  No, he had
not, wished he had, but could not afford it, the youth replied; and
Deuchat's offer to give him a lesson once or twice a week was accepted
eagerly.  The story is pleasant and circumstantial enough to be
credible; and the existence of an early Raeburn miniature of Deuchar is
evidence of the existence of friendship between the two.  But, as a
free drawing-school had been founded in 1760 by the Honourable the
Board of Manufactures for the precise object of encouraging and
improving design for manufactures, the impossibility of Raeburn
receiving instructions of some kind was less than seems to be implied.

It is true, of course, that the teaching then given was exceedingly
elementary, and that it was not until after the appointment in 1798 of
John Graham[1] (1754-1817) as preceptor that the Trustees' Academy was
developed and began to exercise a definite and indeed a profound
influence on Scottish painting.  From 1771, the year in which Raeburn
left Heriot's, until his death, Alexander Runciman (1736-85), the "Sir
Brimstone" of a convivial club of the day and an artist of great
ambition and some gifts, if little real accomplishment, in history
painting, was master, however, and tradition has it that Raeburn took
the tone of his colour from that painter's work.  But no record exists
of Raeburn having been a pupil of the school, and he does not appear to
have received any more training than was involved in the relationships
with his master and his master's friend which have been described.
Even subsequent introduction to David Martin (1737-98), who settled in
Edinburgh in 1775, when Raeburn was nineteen, meant little more.  By
that time, or little later, he had almost certainly come to an
arrangement under which his master cancelled his indenture, and
received as compensation a share in the prices received for the
miniatures to which Raeburn now chiefly devoted himself, and for which
Gilliland probably helped to secure commissions.  These miniatures, of
which few have survived, recognisable as his work at least, possess no
very marked artistic qualities.  Drawn with care and not without
considerable sense  of  construction, they are tenderly modelled but
not stippled, and the colour is cool and rather negative in character.
The frank way in which the sitters are regarded, and the lighting and
placing of the heads are almost the only elements which hint their
authorship.  They are simple and straight-forward likenesses rather
than works of art and bear no obvious relationship to the elegant
bibelots or deeply-searched portraits in little of the contemporary
English school of miniaturists.  But obviously they were some
preparation for the development which followed, when, soon afterwards
and almost at once, he passed from water-colour miniature to life-size
portraiture in oil paint.

=====================================================================

PLATE IV.--MRS CAMPBELL OF BALLIEMORE.

(National Gallery of Scotland.)

This is one of the finest of the many fine portraits by Raeburn in the
Edinburgh Gallery.  Its place in the artist's work is discussed on page
63.

[Illustration: Plate IV.]

=====================================================================

The rapid expansion of Edinburgh provided new opportunities and helped
to Raeburn's early success.  When he was eight years old the building
of the North Bridge, which was to connect the old city with the
projected new town on the other side of the valley, was begun, and by
the time he attained his majority many of the well-to-do had migrated.
The new district meant bigger houses and larger rooms, and, with the
increase in wealth which followed the commercial and agricultural
development of the country of which the city was the capital, led to
alterations in the habits and expansion of the ideals of its
inhabitants.  It was probably the opening for an artist offered by
these altered circumstances which had brought Martin to Edinburgh, and
certainly Raeburn was fortunate in that his emergence coincided with
them.  An attractive and clever lad devoting himself to art in a
community increasing in wealth and expanding in ideas, and with a
sympathetic master coming in contact with the upper classes, Raeburn
could not fail to make acquaintances able and willing to help him.
Amongst these was John Clerk, younger of Eldin, later a famous
advocate, through whom the young artist got into touch with the
Penicuik family which for several generations had been notable for its
interest in the arts.  And this would lead to other introductions.



[1] Sir David Wilkie, Sir William Allan, and others were pupils of
Graham.



III.

The influences which affected Raeburn and the models upon which he
formed either his style or his method are difficult to trace.  Allan
Ramsay, having painted many portraits in Edinburgh before he went to
London in the same year as Raeburn was born, would be, one would think,
the most likely source of inspiration.  Except Runciman, who
occasionally varied historical subjects by portraits painted in a broad
but somewhat empty manner, and Seaton, an artist of whom little is
known but whose rare and seldom seen portraits possess a breadth of
handling and a simplicity of design which give the best of them a
certain distinction--can they have been an influence with Raeburn?--the
Scottish portrait-painters of the eighteenth century were much
influenced by Ramsay, and Martin had been his favourite pupil.
Raeburn's connection with the latter was very slight, however.  Beyond
giving the youth the entreé to his studio and lending him a few
pictures to copy, Martin does not seem to have been of much direct
assistance, and even these little courtesies come to an end when the
painter to the Prince of Wales for Scotland unjustly accused the
jeweller's apprentice of having sold one of the copies he had been
allowed to make.  Rumour, often astray but now and then hitting the
mark, said that the real reason was jealousy of the younger man's
growing powers.  Raeburn's debt to Ramsay and Martin was therefore
inconsiderable and indirect.  It is not traceable in the technique or
arrangement of his earliest known pictures, such as the full-length
"George Chalmers" in Dunfermline Town Hall, which was painted in 1776,
when the artist was twenty.  Probably sight of Martin's pictures in
progress was an incentive to work rather than a formative influence on
his development as a painter.  He had, says Allan Cunningham, writing
within a few years of Raeburn's death, "to make experiments, and drudge
to acquire what belongs to the mechanical labour, and not to the genius
of his art.  His first difficulty was the preparation of his colours;
putting them on the palette, and applying them according to the rules
of art taught in the academies.  All this he had to seek out for
himself."  And, if probably exaggerated, the statement gives some idea
of the difficulties with which he had to contend.  There were at that
time no exhibitions and no public collections of pictures where a youth
of genuine instinct could have gleaned hints as to technical procedure,
but there were at least portraits in a number of houses in the city and
district, and from these and from prints after the Masters, of which
Deuchar, an etcher himself, evidently possessed examples, Raeburn no
doubt derived much instruction as to design, the use of chiaroscuro and
the like.  It has also been suggested with considerable likelihood that
mezzotints after portraits by Sir Joshua Reynolds had a considerable
effect upon him.

=====================================================================

PLATE V.--PROFESSOR ROBISON.

(University of Edinburgh.)

Painted about 1798, "Professor Robison" is one of the most notable
portraits painted by Raeburn before 1800.  It represents the
culmination of his _premier coup_ manner.  (See pp. 63 and 73.)

[Illustration: Plate V.]

=====================================================================

Passing from supposition, which, however interesting and plausible,
throws no very definite light upon the formation of Raeburn's style, to
his early work itself, one finds it chiefly remarkable for frank
rendering of character.  Obviously he believed in his own eyes, and
sought simple and direct ways for the expression of his vision.
Certain of what he saw, and desiring to set it down as he saw it, lack
of training in the traditional methods of painting by process probably
led him to attempt direct realisation in paint.  Here is at once the
simplest and the most reasonable explanation of how he became an
exponent of direct painting, of how, isolated though it was, his art
came to be perhaps the most emphatic statement of this particular
method of handling between Velasquez and Hals and comparatively recent
times.  Of course at this early stage his technical accomplishment was
not at all equal to his frankness of vision.  His drawing, although
expressing character, was uncertain and not fully constructive; his
sense of design was rather stiff and occasionally somewhat archaic in
character; his handling and modelling, if broad and courageous, were
insufficiently supported by knowledge; his colour was apt to be dull
and monotonous, or, when breaking from that, patchy and crude in its
more definite notes which do not fuse sufficiently with their
surroundings.

Gradually these deficiencies were mastered, but in some degree they
persist in most of the comparatively few portraits which can be said
with certainty to have been painted before he went to Italy.  He had
been in no hurry to go.  Ever since marriage with one of his sitters in
1778, when he was only twenty-two, his future had been secure.  The
lady, _neé_ Ann Edgar of Bridgelands, Peebleshire, brought him a
considerable fortune.  The widow of James Leslie--who traced his
descent to Sir George Leslie, first Baron of Balquhain (1351), and who,
after his purchase of Deanhaugh in 1777,[1] was spoken of as "Count of
Deanhaugh"--she was twelve years the artist's senior, and had three
children; but the marriage turned out most happily for all concerned.
Raeburn went to live at his wife's property, which lay not far from his
brother's house and factory at Stockbridge, and, although sitters
increased with his growing reputation until he is said to have been
quite independent of his wife's income, he does not appear to have had
a separate studio.  Probably his Edinburgh clients went to Deanhaugh,
and at times he seems to have painted portraits at the country houses
of the gentry.  But in 1785 desire to see and learn more than was
possible at home took him to Italy.  While in London he made the
acquaintance of Reynolds, in whose studio he may have worked for a few
weeks, and Sir Joshua's advice confirming his original intention,
Raeburn and his wife went to Rome, where they resided about two years.
When parting Reynolds took him aside and whispered: "Young man, I know
nothing about your circumstances.  Young painters are seldom rich; but
if money be necessary for your studies abroad, say so, and you shall
not want it."  Money was not needed, but letters of introduction were
accepted gladly; and "ever afterwards Raeburn mentioned the name of Sir
Joshua with much respect."



[1] If, as stated by Cumberland Hill in his _History of Stockbridge_,
Leslie bought Deanhaugh in 1777, and if, as stated by Cunningham and
others, Raeburn married in 1778, the lady can have been a widow for
only a few months.



IV.

In these days of rapid travel, the transition from north to south is
exceedingly striking.  Leaving London one speeds past the pleasant
Surrey fields and lanes and woodlands, and through the soft rolling
green downs, and in the afternoon and evening sees the less familiar
but not strange wide planes and poplar-fringed rivers of Northern
France, to open one's eyes next morning upon the brown sun-baked lands,
with their strange southern growths, which lie behind Marseilles; and
all day as the train thunders along the Riviera, through olive gardens
and vineyards, one has glimpses of strangely picturesque white-walled
and many-coloured shuttered towns fringing the broad bays or clustering
on the rocks above little harbours, and drinks a strange enchantment
from great vistas of lovely coast washed by blue waters and gladdened
by radiant sunshine.  And on the second morning, issuing into the great
square before the station, you have your first sight of Rome.

=====================================================================

PLATE VI.--JOHN TAIT OF HARVIESTON AND HIS GRANDSON.  (Mrs Pitman.)

One of the artist's most virile and trenchant performances, it was
painted in 1798-9.  The child was introduced after the grandfather's
death.  (See p. 63.)

[Illustration: Plate VI.]

=====================================================================

Yet impressive as these transitions are, they are nothing to the
contrast which Rome presented to the stranger from the north in the
eighteenth century when, after slow and long and weary travelling, he
reached his goal.  Then Rome was still a town of the renaissance
imposed upon a city of the ancients; and under the aegis of the Papacy
preserved aspects of life and character which differed little from
those of three or four centuries earlier.  After the grey metropolis of
the north, with its softly luminous or cloudy skies, its sombreness of
aspect, its calvinistic religious atmosphere, its interest in science
and philosophy, and its want of interest in the arts, the clear
sunshiny air of the Eternal City, its picturesque and crowded life, its
gorgeous ecclesiastical ceremonies and processions, its monuments of
art and architecture, and its cosmopolitan coteries of eager dilettanti
discussing the latest archaeological discoveries, and of artists
studying the achievements of the past, must have formed an
extraordinary contrast, Yet Raeburn, much as these novel and stirring
surroundings would strike him, remained true to his own impressions of
reality and was unaffected in his artistic ideals.  Almost alone of the
foreign artists then resident in Rome, he was unaffected by the
pseudo-classicism which prevailed.  In part a product of emasculated
academic tradition, and in part the result of philosophical
speculations, upon which the discoveries at Pompeii and the excavations
then taking place in Rome had had a strong influence, it was an
attitude which founded itself upon the past and opposed the direct
study of nature.  Gavin Hamilton (1723-98) and Jacob More (1740?-93)
two of its most conspicuous pictorial exponents were Scots by birth,
but they had lived so long abroad that Scotland had become to them
little more than a memory.  The work of the former was in many ways an
embodiment of the current dilettante conception of art, and kindred in
kind, though earlier in date, to that of Jacques Louis David
(1748-1825) under whose sway, towards the close of the century, classic
ideals came to dominate the art of Europe outside these isles.  His
usefulness to Raeburn was chiefly that of a cicerone.  There was little
of an archaeological kind with which he was unacquainted, and he was so
famous a discoverer of antiquities that the superstitious Romans
thought that he was in league with the devil.  The landscapes of More,
though highly praised by Goethe, would appeal to Raeburn little more
than did the "sublime" historical designs of Hamilton.  They were but
dilutions,  frequently flavoured  with melodramatic sentiment, of the
noble convention formulated by Claude and the Poussins.  Raeburn, on
the other hand, had looked at man and nature inquiringly, and had
evolved a manner of expressing the results of his observation for
himself.  Moreover he was past the easily impressionable age, and
turned his opportunities to direct and practical uses.  He used to
declare that the advice of James Byres (1734-1818?) of Tonley, who, in
Raeburn's own words, was "a man of great general information, a
profound antiquary, and one of the best judges perhaps of everything
connected with art in Great Britain," was the most valuable lesson he
received while abroad.  "Never paint anything except you have it before
you" was what his friend urged, and, while Raeburn, to judge from his
early portraits, did not stand greatly in need of the injunction, it
probably strengthened him in his own beliefs.  Be that as it may he
seems to have used his stay in Italy principally to widen his technical
experience, and his work after his return was richer and fuller than
what he had done previously.  No record of any special study he may
have undertaken or of the pictures he particularly admired exists.
Even gossip is silent as regards his preferences, except in so far as
it is said that while in Rome he came near to preferring sculpture to
painting.



V.

Arrived back in Edinburgh in 1787, Raeburn took a studio in the new
town, and, with his enhanced powers and the added prestige due to his
sojourn abroad, soon occupied a commanding place.  Few agreed with
Martin that "the lad in George Street painted better before he went to
Italy," for if the majority were unaware of his high artistic gifts,
none could be unconscious of the vital and convincing quality of his
portraitures.  His earlier sitters included some of the most
distinguished people in Scotland.  Lord President Dundas must have been
amongst the very first for he died before the end of the year.  Ere
long his position was unassailable, and during the five-and-thirty
years that followed he painted practically everybody who was anybody.
Burns is probably the only great Scotsman of that epoch who was not
immortalised by his brush, for the missing likeness, which has been
discovered so often, was not painted from life but from Nasmyth's
portrait.

From the time he returned home until 1809, when he purchased the
adjoining property off St Bernard's, Raeburn lived at Deanhaugh.[1]
The junction of these small estates enabled him to feu the outlying
parts on plans prepared by himself, architecture being one of his
hobbies, and his family's connection with them is still marked by such
names as Raeburn Place, Ann Street (after his wife), Leslie Place, St
Bernard's Crescent, and Deanhaugh Street.  Some years earlier
continuous increase in the number of his clients had rendered a change
of studio desirable, and in 1795 he moved from George Street to 16 (now
32) York Place where he had built a specially designed and spacious
studio, with a suite of rooms for the display of recently completed
work or of portraits he had painted for himself.  At a later date, when
exhibitions were inaugurated in Edinburgh (first series 1808-13), he
lent the show-rooms to the Society of Artists which organised them.
This action was typical of Raeburn's cordial relations with his
fellow-artists, most of whom were poor and socially unimportant; and
only a year before his death he championed the professional artists
when, partly in opposition to the Royal Institution, they proposed to
form an Academy.  Incidentally also, the letter written on that
occasion, which I have transcribed in full in _Scottish Painting; Past
and Present_, gives an indication of the extent of his practice, of how
fully he was engaged.

Until 1808 Raeburn's career had been one unbroken success, but in that
year, following upon the failure of his son, financial disaster
overtook him.  The firm of "Henry Raeburn and Company, merchants,
Shore, Leith," consisted of Henry Raeburn, Junior, and James Philip
Inglis, who had married Anne Leslie, the artist's step-daughter, but
neither the _Edinburgh Gazette_ nor the local Directory states the
nature of their business.  In the proceedings in connection with
Raeburn's own bankruptcy, however, he is described as "portrait-painter
and underwriter."  What underwriter exactly means is uncertain, but it
may be that the son was a marine-insurance broker, that Raeburn himself
took marine-insurance risks.  In any case his ruin seemed complete.
Not only did he lose all his savings but he had even to sell the York
Place studio, of which he was afterwards only tenant.  He failed, paid
a composition, and, two years later, proposed settling in London.  By
those of his biographers who have noticed it at all, this failure and
the contemplated removal south have been very closely associated.  But
a more careful examination of the whole circumstances makes such an
assumption rather doubtful.  Alexander Cunningham, in a letter written
on 16th February 1808, tells a correspondent--"I had a walk of three
hours on Sunday with my worthy friend, Raeburn.  He had realised nearly
£17,000, which is all gone.  He has offered a small composition, which
he is in hopes will be accepted.  He quits this to try his fate in
London, which I trust in God will be successful.  While I write this I
feel the tear start."  So far the connection is evident enough.  But
although the artist received his discharge in June of the same year,[2]
it was not until two years later that he took active steps towards
carrying out his idea.[3]  The time was highly propitious.  Hoppner had
just died (23rd January 1810), and Wilkie records in his journal (March
2nd) that he had heard that that artist's house was to be taken for
Raeburn.  Lawrence was now without a rival in the metropolis, and
Raeburn's talent was of a kind which would soon have commanded
attention there.  The opening was obvious, but Raeburn's reception by
the gentlemen of the Royal Academy, when he visited London in May, was
not very cordial, and fortunately for Scotland, if not for himself, he
was persuaded to remain in Edinburgh.  From then onward the fates were
kind.  To quote his own words, written in 1822, "my business, though it
may fall off, cannot admit of enlargement."

Wider recognition also came to him.  He had exhibited at the Royal
Academy as early as 1792, but it was 1810 before he became a regular
contributor, and in 1812 he was elected an Associate, full membership
following three years later.  Just prior to his advancement to
Academician rank, he wrote one of the few letters by him that have been
preserved:--"I observe what you say respecting the election of an R.A.;
but what am I to do here?  They know that I am on their list; if they
choose to elect me without solicitation, it will be the more honourable
to me, and I will think the more of it; but if it can only be obtained
by means of solicitation and canvassing, I must give up all hopes of
it, for I would think it unfair to employ those means."

No doubt election was particularly gratifying to Raeburn.  Isolated as
he was in Edinburgh, where an Academy did not come into existence until
some years after his death, it must have been stimulating to receive
such tangible assurance of that appreciation of one's fellow-workers
which is the most grateful form of admiration to the artist.  He
reciprocated by offering as his diploma work the impressive portrait of
himself, which is now one of the treasures of the National Gallery of
Scotland.  The rules of the Academy, however, forbade the acceptance of
a self-portrait, and in 1821 he gave the "Boy with Rabbit"--a portrait
of his step-grandson, but one of his most genre-like pieces.  Other
Academic diplomas received later were those of the Academies of
Florence, New York, and South Carolina.

A year before he died these artistic laurels were supplemented by royal
favour.  On the occasion of that never-to-be-forgotten event--to those
who took part in it--the first visit of a King to Scotland since the
Union of Parliaments, Raeburn was presented to George IV. and knighted.
His fellow artists marked their appreciation of this fresh distinction
by entertaining him to a public dinner, at which the chairman,
Alexander Nasmyth, the doyen of the local painters, declared that "they
loved him as a man not less than they admired him as an artist."  And
in the following May, the King appointed him his "limner and painter in
Scotland, with all fees, profits, salaries, rights, privileges, and
advantages thereto belonging."

Raeburn did not long enjoy these new honours.  In July, a day or two
after returning from an archaeological excursion in Fifeshire with,
amongst others, Sir Walter Scott and Miss Edgeworth, he became suddenly
ill, took to bed, and in less than a week was dead.



[1] All Raeburn's biographers follow Cunningham in stating that Raeburn
succeeded to St Bernard's on the death of his brother in 1787 or 1788.
It was not so, however.  The intimation in the _Edinburgh Evening
Courant_, of 13th December 1810, reads, "Died on the 6th December Mr
William Raeburn, manufacturer, Stockbridge"; and the title deeds of St
Bernard's show that the artist purchased it from the trustees of the
late Mrs Margaret Ross in October 1809.

[2] Henry Raeburn & Co.'s affairs were not settled until March 1810.

[3] That his own affairs were not only settled but were again highly
prosperous before this is apparent from his having purchased St
Bernard's in 1809.



VI.

While Raeburn's attitude to reality was determined and his style was
formed to a great extent before he went abroad, his ideas of pictorial
effect were broadened and his technical resources enriched by his
sojourn in Italy.  Some of the work executed immediately after his
return, such as the portraits of Lord President Dundas, Neil Gow, the
famous fiddler, and the earlier of two portraits of his friend John
Clerk of Eldin, shows, with much unity, a greater care and precision in
the handling of detail, a more searched kind of modelling and a fuller
sense of tone, and thicker impasto and fuller colour than that done
previously.  Moreover the design of the first-named picture is
reminiscent in certain ways of Velasquez's "Pope Innocent X.," which he
may have seen and studied in the Doria Palace in Rome, though too much
stress need not be laid on the resemblance.  About this time also, he
painted a few pictures in which difficult problems of lighting are
subtly and skilfully solved.  In things like the charming bust "William
Ferguson of Kilrie" (before 1790) and the group of Sir John and Lady
Clerk of Penicuik (1790) the faces are in luminous shadow, touched by
soft reflected light to give expression and animation.  But for obvious
reasons such effects are not favoured by the clients of
portrait-painters, and that Raeburn should have adopted them at all is
evidence of the widening of the artistic horizon induced by his stay
abroad.

=====================================================================

PLATE VII.--MISS EMILY DE VISMES--LADY MURRAY.  (Earl of Mansfield.)

An admirable example of the artist's mature style, and one of his most
charming portraits of women.  (See p. 79.)

[Illustration: Plate VII.]

=====================================================================

In pictures painted but little later than these, one finds a marked
tendency to revert to the more abbreviated modelling and broader
execution which have been noted as characteristic of his pre-Roman
style.  The execution, however, is now much more confident and
masterly, the draughtsmanship better, the design, while exceedingly
simple, less stiff and more closely knit.  Using pigment of very fluid
consistency and never loading the lights, though following the
traditional method of thick in the lights and thin in the shadows, his
handling is exceedingly direct and spontaneous, his touch fearless and
broad yet thoroughly under control, his drawing summary yet selective
and so expressive that, even in faces where the lighting is so broad
that there is little shadow to mark the features and little modelling
to explain the planes, the large structure of the head and the
essentials of likeness are rendered in a very satisfying and convincing
way.  His colour, however, if losing the inclination to the rather dull
grey-greenness which had prevailed before 1785, remained somewhat cold
and wanting in quality, and the more forcible tints introduced in the
draperies were frequently lacking in modulation and were not quite in
harmony with the prevailing tone.  Something of this deficiency in
fusion is also noticeable in his flesh tints, the carnations of the
complexions being somewhat detached owing to defective gradation where
the pinks join the whites.  As experience came, Raeburn advanced from
the somewhat starved quality of pigment, which in his earlier pictures
was accentuated by his broad manner of handling, until in many of the
pictures painted during the later nineties he attained extraordinary
{63} power of expression by vigorous and incisive use of square
brush-work and full yet fluid and unloaded impasto.  This method with
its sharply struck touches and simplified planes reaches its climax
perhaps in the striking portrait (1798 circa) of Professor Robison in
white night-cap and red-striped dressing-gown, though the more fused
manner of "Mrs Campbell of Balliemore" (1795) and the extraordinary
trenchant handling of the "John Tait of Harvieston and his grandson"
(1798-9) show modifications which are as fine and perhaps less
mannered.  Even earlier he sometimes attained a solidity and
forcefulness of effect, a fullness of colour, and a resonance of tone
which gave foretaste of the accomplishment of his full maturity.
Curiously this is most marked in two or three full-lengths.  The
earliest of these was the famous "Dr Nathaniel Spens" in the possession
of the Royal Company of Archers, by which body it was commissioned in
1791.  In it close realisation of detail and restraint in handling are
very happily harmonised with breadth of ensemble and effectiveness of
design.  Some five years later this fine achievement was followed by
the even more striking, if rather less dignified, "Sir John Sinclair,"
a splendid piece of virtuosity, which unites brilliant colour and
admirable tone to great dash and bravura of brush-work.

During this period, and indeed throughout his career, Raeburn usually
placed his sitters in a strong direct light, which, being thrown upon
the head and upper part of the figure (from a high side-light)
illumined the face broadly, and, while emphasising the features with
definite though narrow shadows, made it dominate the ensemble.  Very
often this concentration of effect was associated with a forced and
arbitrary use of chiaroscuro.  In many of his pictures one finds the
lower portion of the figure, including the hands, low in tone through
the artist having arranged a screen or blind to throw a shadow over the
parts he wished subordinated.  This device appears in full-lengths as
well as in busts and threequarter-lengths, and while, no doubt, helping
to the desired end, is now and then a disturbing influence from the
fact that it is difficult to account for the result from purely normal
causes.  With Rembrandt, the greatest master of concentrated pictorial
effect, the transitions from the fully illumined passages to the
surrounding transparent darks are so gradual and so subtle that one
scarcely notices that the effect has been arranged--the concentration
is an integral part of the imaginative apprehension of the subject.  It
is otherwise with Raeburn, in his earlier work at least.  Later he
attained much the same results by less arbitrary and apparent means, by
swathing the hands and arms--the high tone of which he evidently found
disconcerting and conflicting with the heads--in drapery, by placing
them where they tell as little as possible, and by modifications in
handling.  His management of accessories was also determined by desire
for concentration.  Although, as is obvious from his increasing use of
it, preferring a simple background from which the figure has
atmospheric detachment, he frequently used the scenic setting which
Reynolds and Gainsborough had made the vogue.  His idea, however, was
that a landscape background should be exceedingly unassertive--"nothing
more than the shadow of a landscape; effect is all that is
wanted"--and, always executing them himself, his are invariably
subordinate to the figure.  But the essential quality of his vision
went best with plain backgrounds.  That he did not wholly abandon the
decorative convention which he heired, and often employed to excellent
purpose, was due in large measure to caution.  "He came," says W. E.
Henley, "at the break between new and old--when the old was not yet
discredited, and the new was still inoffensive; and with that exquisite
good sense which marks the artist, he identified himself with that
which was known, and not with that which, though big with many kinds of
possibilities, was as yet in perfect touch with nothing actively
alive."  Yet, had he had the full courage of his convictions, his work
would have been an even more outstanding landmark in the history of
painting than it is.  Still to ask from Raeburn what one does not get
from Velasquez, many of whose portraits have a conventional setting, is
to be more exacting than critical, and, as has been indicated,
simplicity of design and aerial relief became increasingly evident in
Raeburn's work, and that in spite of the protests of some of his
admirers.

While Raeburn had been working towards a fuller and more subtle
statement of likeness, modelling, and arrangement, it is possible that
removal to his new studio accelerated development in that direction.
The painting-room had been designed by himself for his own special
purposes, and no doubt suggested new possibilities.  In any case, the
portraits painted after 1795 reveal a definite increase in the
qualities mentioned.  But before considering the characteristics of his
later style, it might be well to tell what is known of his habits of
work and technical procedure.  Cunningham's summary of these applies
partly to the George Street and partly to the York Place period, but
for practical purposes they may be regarded as one, for, while
Raeburn's art may be divided into periods, each was but a stage in a
gradual and consistent evolution.  "The motions of the artist were as
regular as those of a clock.  He rose at seven during summer, took
breakfast about eight with his wife and children, walked into George
Street, and was ready for a sitter by nine; and of sitters he generally
had, for many years, not fewer than three or four a day.  To these he
gave an hour and a half each.  He seldom kept a sitter more than two
hours, unless the person happened--and that was often the case--to be
gifted with more than common talents.  He then felt himself happy, and
never failed to detain the party till the arrival of a new sitter
intimated that he must be gone.  For a head size he generally required
four or five sittings: and he preferred painting the head and hands to
any other part of the body; assigning as a reason that they required
less consideration.  A fold of drapery, or the natural ease which the
casting of a mantle over the shoulder demanded, occasioned him more
perplexing study than a head full of thought and imagination.  Such was
the intuition with which he penetrated at once to the mind, that the
first sitting rarely came to a close without his having seized strongly
on the character and disposition of the individual.  He never drew in
his heads, or indeed any part of the body, with chalk--a system pursued
successfully by Lawrence--but began with the brush at once.  The
forehead, chin, nose, and mouth, were his first touches.  He always
painted standing, and never used a stick for resting his hand on; for
such was his accuracy of eye, and steadiness of nerve, that he could
introduce the most delicate touches, or the almost mechanical
regularity of line, without aid, or other contrivance than fair
off-hand dexterity.  He remained in his painting-room till a little
after five o'clock, when he walked home, and dined at six....  From one
who knew him in his youthful days, and sat to him when he rose in fame,
I have this description of his way of going to work.  "He spoke a few
words to me in his usual brief and kindly way--evidently to put me into
an agreeable mood; and then having placed me in a chair on a platform
at the end of his painting-room, in the posture required, set up his
easel beside me with the canvas ready to receive the colour.  When he
saw all was right, he took his palette and his brush, retreated back
step by step, with his face towards me, till he was nigh the other end
of the room; he stood and studied for a minute more, then came up to
the canvas, and, without looking at me, wrought upon it with colour for
some time.  Having done this, he retreated in the same manner, studied
my looks at that distance for about another minute, then came hastily
up to the canvas and painted for a few minutes more."  These details
may be supplemented by the list of colours used by him, which Alexander
Fraser, R.S.A., gave in _The Portfolio_.  "His palette was a simple
one; his colours were vermilion, raw sienna (but sometimes yellow ochre
instead), Prussian blue, burnt sienna, ivory black, crimson lake,
white, of course, and the medium he used was 'gumption,' a composition
of sugar of lead, mastic varnish, and linseed oil.  The colours were
ground by a servant in his own house and put into small pots ready for
use."  When one adds that his studio had a very high side-light, and
that he painted on half-primed canvas with a definitely marked twill,
all that is known of his practice has been noted.

=====================================================================

PLATE VIII.--MRS SCOTT MONCRIEFF.

(National Gallery of Scotland.)

None of Raeburn's portraits of ladies is quite so famous as this.
Although in indifferent condition owing to bitumen having been used, it
is singularly charming in colour, design, and sentiment, and is one of
the chief treasures of the gallery, in which it has hung since 1854,
when Mr R. Scott Moncrieff, Welwood of Pitliver, bequeathed it to the
Royal Scottish Academy.  (See page 79.)

[Illustration: Plate VIII.]

=====================================================================

As already suggested, Raeburn's style was tending towards greater
completeness of expression and more naturalness of arrangement before
he removed to York Place in 1795, but, while his normal advance was in
that direction, it was so gradual that it is only by looking at a
number of pictures painted, say, five or ten years later, and comparing
them with their {73} predecessors that one notices that the advance was
definite and not casual.  Occasionally, as in the "Professor Robison,"
there is a very emphatic restatement of a somewhat earlier method; but,
as the "Lord Braxfield" of about 1790 is a premonition of a much later
manner, this exceptional treatment seems to have been inspired by the
character of the sitter having suggested its special suitability.  But
comparing the splendid group, "Reginald Macdonald of Clanranald and his
two younger brothers" (about 1800), or the "Mrs Cruikshank of Langley
Park" (about 1805), with typical examples painted between 1787 and
1795, one finds the later pictures marked not only by increased power
of drawing and more masterly brush-work but by a finer rendering of
form, by greater roundness of modelling, and by a more expressive use
of colour and chiaroscuro.

Considerable ingenuity has been expended in trying to prove that
Raeburn's subsequent development was due in some way or other to the
influence of Hoppner and Lawrence.  Consideration of his situation and
of his work itself, however, scarcely bears this out.  His ignorance of
what was being done by London artists, and of how his own pictures
compared with theirs, is very clearly evident from the following letter
written to Wilkie:--


  Edinburgh,
  12_th September_ 1819.

Mr dear Sir,--I let you to wit that I am still here, and long much to
hear from you, both as to how you are and what you are doing.  I would
not wish to impose any hardship upon you, but it would give me great
pleasure if you would take the trouble to write me at least once a
year, if not oftener, and give me a little information of what is going
on among the artists, for I do assure you I have as little
communication with any of them, and know almost as little about them,
as if I were living at the Cape of Good Hope.

I send up generally a picture or two to the Exhibition, which serve
merely as an advertisement that I am still in the land of the living,
but in other respects it does me no good, for I get no notice from any
one, nor have I the least conception how they look beside others.  I
know not in what London papers any critiques of that kind are made, and
our Edinburgh ones (at least those that I see) take no notice of these
matters.  At any rate I would prefer a candid observation or two from
an artist like you, conveying not only your own opinion but perhaps
that of others, before any of them.

Are the Portrait-Painters as well employed as ever?  Sir Thomas
Lawrence, they tell me, has refused to commence any more pictures till
he gets done with those that are on hand, and that he has raised his
prices to some enormous sum.  Is that true, and will you do me the
favour to tell me what his prices really are, and what Sir W. Beechy,
Mr Philips, and Mr Owen have for their pictures?  It will be a
particular favour if you will take the trouble to ascertain these for
me precisely, for I am raising my prices too, and it would be a guide
to me--not that I intend to raise mine so high as your famous London
artists.


Moreover he is said to have visited London only three times: in 1785,
when he spent several weeks while on his way to Italy; in 1810, when he
contemplated settling there; and in 1815, after he was elected an
Academician.  It is of course only with the later visits that we have
to do in this connection.  By that time Hoppner was dead, and
Lawrence's claim to be painter par excellence to the fashionable world
was undisputed.  No doubt the Scottish painter would be attracted by
the technical accomplishment of Lawrence's work; but he was between
fifty and sixty years of age and little likely to be influenced by an
art, which, for all its brilliance, was meretricious in many respects.
Yet it is possible that the adulation lavished by society upon his
contemporary's style may have induced him to consider if something of
the elegance for which it was esteemed so highly could not be added
with advantage to his own.  On the other hand, Scottish society was
gradually undergoing evolution,  and, while a greater infusion of
fashion amongst its members would in itself tend to stimulate the
favourite painter of the day in the same direction, increase in wealth
would bring a greater number of younger sitters to his studio.
Probably a combination of these represents the influences which
affected Raeburn.  In any case, his later portraits, especially of
women, possess qualities of charm and beauty which, while never merely
pretty or meretricious, connect them in some measure with the more
modish and less sincere and virile work of Lawrence.  But
otherwise--and, unlike his southern contemporaries, he never sacrificed
character to elegance or subordinated individuality to type--the
evolution of his style continued on purely personal lines.  The
pictures painted between 1810 and his death, while still at the height
of his powers, are essentially one with those of the preceding decade.
There is in them a more delicate sense of beauty than before, and his
portraits of ladies are marked by a quickened perception of feminine
grace and charm; but these are results of the natural development of
his nature and of his personal powers of expression rather than of any
radical alteration in his standpoint.

As regards the work of the last fifteen years and more, it is less
increased grasp of character, for that had always been a leading trait,
than growth in the expressive power and completeness of his technique
that is the dominating factor.  And here the prevailing qualities are
but the issue of previous experience.  His modelling ceases to be
marked by the rough-hewn and over simplified planes which had
distinguished his incisive square-touch at its strongest and becomes
fused and suave.  As Sir Walter Armstrong put it, "He began with the
facets and ended with the completest modelling ever reached by any
English painter."  Now his colour not only loses the inclination to
slatiness and monotony, which were evident before 1795, and sometimes
even later, but, the half-tones being more delicately graded, the
transitions, though still lacking the subtleties of the real colourist,
are blended and the general tone enriched and harmonised.  And his use
of chiaroscuro becomes infinitely more delicate both in its play upon
the face and in the broad disposition, which now attains finer and more
convincing concentration in virtue of more skillful subordination
through handling, as well as through more pictorial management of his
old arrangement of lighting.  Moreover the scenic setting, if retained
in many full-lengths, is to a great extent abandoned for a simple
background lighted from the same source as the sitter, and against
which face and figure come in truer atmospheric envelope and relief.
With these alterations, which were not perhaps invariably all gain, his
later work now and then lacking the delightfully clear and incisive
brushing of the preceding period, were also associated a fuller and
fatter body of paint which, while never loaded, gives richness of
effect, and a sonorousness of tone which his earlier pictures rarely
possess.

A sympathetic and human perception of character was the basis of his
relationship to his sitters, each of whom is individualised in a rarely
convincing way, and to me at least the {79} view of life expressed in
his later pictures seems more genial and comprehending than that which
dominates his earlier work.  Comparatively this is perhaps especially
evident in his rendering of pretty women.  "Mrs Scott Moncrieff," "Miss
de Vismes," "Miss Janet Suttie," and "Mrs Irvine Boswell," to name no
more, are all beauties; but each differs from the others, and is marked
by personal traits to an extent unusual in his earlier practice.  Still
his grasp of character is more obviously seen in his portraitures of
older women and of men, and his masterpieces are to be found amongst
his pictures of this kind rather than amongst his "beauty" pieces,
seductive though the best of these are.  When one thinks of his finest
and most personal achievements, one recalls such things as "Lord
Newton," "Sir William Forbes," and "James Wardrop of Torbanehill," or
"Mrs Cruikshank," and "Mrs James Campbell."

Born a painter of character, Raeburn was at his best where character,
intellect, and shrewdness were most marked.  Yet axiomatic though it
may sound, this implies great gifts.  To seize the obvious points of
likeness, and make a portrait more living than life itself is
comparatively easy; but to grasp the essential elements of likeness and
character, and, while vitalising these pictorially and decoratively, to
preserve the normal tone of life is difficult indeed.  Of this, the
highest triumph of the portrait-painter's art as such, Raeburn was a
master.



  PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN AT
  THE PRESS OF THE PUBLISHERS.



  IN THE SAME SERIES

  ARTIST.                    AUTHOR.

  VELAZQUEZ.                 S. L. BENSUSAN.
  REYNOLDS.                  S. L. BENSUSAN.
  TURNER.                    C. LEWIS HIND.
  ROMNEY.                    C. LEWIS HIND.
  GREUZE.                    ALYS EYRE MACKLIN.
  BOTTICELLI.                HENRY B. BINNS.
  ROSSETTI.                  LUCIEN PISSARRO.
  BELLINI.                   GEORGE HAY.
  FRA ANGELICO.              JAMES MASON.
  REMBRANDT.                 JOSEF ISRAELS.
  LEIGHTON.                  A. LYS BALDRY.
  RAPHAEL.                   PAUL G. KONODY.
  HOLMAN HUNT.               MARY E. COLERIDGE.
  TITIAN.                    S. L. BENSUSAN.
  CARLO DOLCI.               GEORGE HAY.
  LUINI.                     JAMES MASON.
  TINTORETTO.                S. L. BENSUSAN.

  _Others in Preparation._





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