Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/353

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SIR HENRY RAEBURN. H7

acquirements of the subject of the biography more remarkable), that he received his education at Heriot's Hospital, a well known and benevolent institution in Edinburgh ; but this is not the fact, his brother William having with heart- felt satisfaction given him the scanty, but usual education of that period. In the usual routine of education he was not remarked to display any superiority to his class fellows, but when they were drawing figures on their slates or copy books, those of Raeburn surpassed all the rest ; but this did not lead any fur- ther. In other respects he was distinguished by the affection of his compan- ions, and formed at that early period intimacies with some of those distinguished friends whose regard accompanied him through life. The circumstances of young Raeburn rendering it necessary that he should, as early as possible, be enabled to provide for his own support, he was at the age of fifteen Apprenticed to a goldsmith, who kept his shop in a dark alley, leading be- tween the Parliament Square and the front of the Old Tolbooth. Here, with- out receiving any lessons, he began to amuse himself by sketching figures, and ultimately by painting miniatures. 1 His master, at first incensed by his apparent in- attention to business, was afterwards astonished by the merit of his performances, an-d, with a liberality hardly to have been expected, conducted him to a place where he might gather the means of improvement in his self-assumed art, namely, the studio of Mr David Martin, the principal portrait-painter in Edinburgh. He was delighted with the works there presented to his eye ; and Martin, on the other hand, spoke encouragingly to the young artist. His miniatures soon be- came so famous, that commissions came rapidly in, and he generally painted two in the week. As this employment, of course, withdrew his time almost en- tirely from trade, he made an arrangement with his master, by which the latter was compensated for the loss he incurred on that account. While still an ap- prentice, he began to paint in oil, and on a large scale. To aid him in this task, he obtained from Martin the loan of several pictures to copy ; but that painter did not contribute advice or assistance in any other shape ; and having once unjustly accused the young student of selling one of the copies, Raeburn indignantly refused any farther accommodation of this nature. Having begun, however, to paint large oil pictures, he soon adopted them in preference to miniatures, a style which he gradually gave up ; nor did his manner in later life retain any trace of that mode of painting : all was broad, massy, and vigorous.

He had thus become a painter almost by intuition ; for there is no ascertain- ing that he ever received any direct instructions in the mysteries, or even in the manual operations, of his art. It was in his twenty-second year, and when

1 " It was in this situation," says the late Dr A. Duncan, senior, " that my first acquaintance with him commenced, and that, too, on a melancholy occasion. Mr Charles Darwin, son of the jusily celebrated Dr Erasmus Darwin, author of that much esteemed poem, The Bo- tanic Garden,' and of other works demonstrating great genius, died during the course of his medical studies at Edinburgh. At that time I had the honour, though a very young medi- 3al lecturer, of ranking Darwin among the number of my pupils. And I need hardly add, that he w;is a favourite pupil : for, during his studies, he exhibited such uncommon proofs of genius and industry, as could not fail to gain the esteem and affection of every disceniing teacher.


have it preserved in a mourning ring. He told me, that one of his present apprentices was a young man of great genius, and could prepare for me in hair, a memorial that would demon- strate both taste and art. Young Uaeburn was immediately called, and proposed to execute, on a small trinket, which might be hung at a watch, a muse weeping over an urn, marked with the initials of Charles Darwin. This trinket was finished by Raeburn in a manner which, to me, afforded manifest proof of very superior genius, and I still preserve it, as a me- morial of the singular and early merit, both of Durwin and of Raeburn.