Exhibition to mark 200 years since death of artist Henry Raeburn

The new exhibition at Georgian House in Edinburgh explores the painter's career and sheds light on his life in Scotland.

An exhibition marking the 200th anniversary of the death of one of Scotland’s greatest artists has opened to the public.

Raeburn’s Edinburgh at the National Trust for Scotland’s Georgian House in Edinburgh explores painter Henry Raeburn’s career, his subjects’ experiences of sitting for portraits, and life in Enlightenment Scotland.

The exhibition brings together 18 carefully selected portraits and engravings, including a self-portrait, from across six National Trust for Scotland properties for the first time.

It tells stories of the artist, the people who sat for him, and the society and attitudes of the city they inhabited.

The curator Dr Antonia Laurence-Allen said: “Many people are familiar with Raeburn’s work, through portraits such as The Skating Minister – or, to use its official title, Reverend Robert Walker (1755-1808) Skating on Duddingston Loch – on show in the Scottish National Gallery.

“But there’s so much more to Raeburn and his world. Using our charity’s Raeburn collection, we’ve created an intimate and inspiring visitor experience which aims to offer insights into the privileged and enlightened world he moved in.

“Raeburn was very much a man of the moment, during one of the capital’s most vibrant periods, painting everyone from advocates to astronomers and aristocrats.

“This is illustrated through the portraits we have chosen for the exhibition, each of which has a unique Edinburgh connection and an individual story about Raeburn, to provide a unique and fascinating picture of the city.

The exhibition as opened at Georgian House in Edinburgh

“We look forward to introducing both local visitors and tourists to Raeburn’s Edinburgh, and hope that the stories and histories woven into this exhibition will give them a richer sense of the city’s wonderful heritage and its relevance today.”

The display features a series of audio recordings. These share the stories and viewpoints of sitters, such as why they commissioned the portrait, how they paid for it, how they chose their outfit, and what they felt about the experience.

The exhibition also features a map of Edinburgh, dating back to 1821, which covers one wall of the exhibition.

This pinpoints key locations in Raeburn’s life, including his studios in the New Town’s George Street and York Place, and Ann Street in Stockbridge, part of a property development scheme he hoped would sort out his financial worries following a bankruptcy.

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