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Record Image
Raeburn, Henry (Scottish, b.1756, d.1823), Artist
Professor William Richardson
oil on canvas
1200 x 990 mm sight size; 1450 x 1250 mm frame size
Collection of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Purchased 1951 with funds from the Dunedin Public Art Gallery Society through the National Art Collections Fund, London.
Henry Raeburn’s first known major portrait – of George Chalmers, for Dunfermline Town Council – was painted in 1776 and, despite his lack of formal training, he went on to create memorable records of the great scholars and lawyers of Edinburgh and picturesque images of Highland lairds.
The subject of this painting was Professor of Humanity at the University of Glasgow from 1773 to 1814. He was also a friend of the great Scottish novelist Sir Walter Scott. Professor Richardson is shown here with his books and pens, in front of a glowing landscape grandly framed with an elaborately draped curtain.
This assured work must have been painted at the peak of Raeburn’s career, some time after he returned to Edinburgh from his travels to England, Rome and Paris in the mid-1780s. It shows his liking for dramatic lighting, and the seated three-quarter length male figure was a favourite format in the last two decades of his career. Despite his own sense of isolation from his major contemporaries, he is regarded as one of the most accomplished portraitists of his time.

not on view

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