Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/355

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SIR HENRY RAEBURN. 149

Having stored his mind with ideas drawn from tVie purest school of modern art, he was indebted for his subsequent improvement solely to his own reflections, and the study of nature. He was never in the habit of repairing to London ; and, indeed, he did not visit that metropolis above three times, nor did he re- side in it altogether more than four months. He was thus neither in the habit of seeing the works of his contemporaries, nor the English collections of old pictures. Whatever disadvantage might attend this, it never stopped the career of his improvement Probably, indeed, it had the effect of preserving that ori. ginality which formed always the decided character of his productions, and kept him free from being trammelled by the style of any class of artists. Perhaps, also, the elevation and dignity of style which he always maintained might bo greatly owing to his exclusive acquaintance with the works of the Italian mas- ters. In English collections, the Dutch specimens are necessarily so prominent, both as to number and choice, that a familiar acquaintance with them must be apt to beget a taste for that homely truth, and minute finishing, in which their merit consists.

The first excellence of a portrait, and for the absence of which nothing can atone, must evidently be its resemblance. In this respect, Sir Henry's eminence was universally acknowledged. In the hands of the best artists, there must, in this part of their task, be something precarious ; but, in a vast majority of in- stances, his resemblances were most striking. They were also happily distin- guished, by being always the most favourable that could be taken of the indi- vidual, and were usually expressive, as well of the character as of the features. This desirable object was effected, not by the introduction of any ideal touches, or any departure from the strictest truth, but by selecting and drawing out those aspects under which the features appeared most dignified and pleasing. He made it his peculiar study to bring out the mind of his subjects. His pene- tration quickly empowered him to discover their favourite pursuits and topics of conversation. Sir Henry's varied knowledge and agreeable manners then easily enabled him, in the course of the sitting, to lead them into an animated discus- sion on those ascertained subjects. As they spoke, he caught their features, enlivened by the strongest expression of which they were susceptible. While he thus made the portrait much more correct and animated, his sitters had a much more agreeable task than those who were pinned up for hours in a constrained and inanimate posture, and in a state of mental vacuity. So agreeable, indeed, did many of the most distinguished and intelligent among them find his society, that they courted it ever after, and studiously converted the artist into a friend and acquaintance.

Besides his excellence in this essential quality of portrait, Sir Henry possess- ed also, in an eminent degree, those secondary merits, which are requisite to constitute a fine painting. His drawing was correct, his colouring rich and deep, and his lights well disposed. There was something bold, free, and open

Hal four Esq., golfer. [Half length.] Rev. Dr Andrew Hunter, professor of divinity. George Jardine, professor of logic, Glasgow. Justice clerk Macqueen. Lord chief baron Dundas. Hay, lord Newton. Kev. Dr David Johnston, minister of North Leith. Rev. Dr John Erskine. Dr James Hamilton. John Gray, Esq., golfer. Professor Playfuir. Sir Walter Scott, when young; Ditto, when older. Sir John Sinclair of Ulbsier, Bart. T-ytler of Woodhouselee. Harry David Inglia advocate. Sir Henry Raeburn. Dr George Hill, principal of St Andrews. Rev. Archibald Alison. Mr Francis Jeffrey. Henry Cockburn. Lord Meadowbank. The following are portraits which, with many others, have not been engraved : Sir Henry Stewart of Allnnton. Mr Benjamin Bell, surgeon. Mr Leonard Horner. Mr Henry Raeburn, the painter's son. The duke of Hamilton. Lord Frederick Campbell. The laird of Macnab, in highland costume. Earl of Breadalbane. Sir John Douglas. Marquis of Huntly. Sir John Hay. Archibald Constable. Rev. F. Thomson. Sir John and Lady Clerk. Mr Ronnie, engineer. Dr Lindsay, Pinkieburn. Dr Alexander Duncan.