Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/356

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


in the whole style of his execution. The accessories, whether of drapery, fur- niture, or landscapes, were treated with elegance and spirit ; yet without that elaborate and brilliant finishing, which makes them become principals. These parts were always kept in due subordination to the human figure; while of it, the head came always out as the prominent part. Animals, particularly that noble species the horse, were introduced with peculiar felicity ; and Sir Henry's equestrian portraits are perhaps his very best performances. The able manner in which the animal itself was drawn, and in which it was com- bined with the human figure, were equally conspicuous.

In private life, Baeburn was remarkable for his courteous and amiable man- ners, and his great domestic worth. While his painting-rooms were in George Street, and latterly in York Place, he resided in a sequestered villa called St Bernard's, near the village where he drew his first breath, then distant from, but now engrossed in, the extending city, where he amused his leisure hours by the society of his children and grand-children, the cultivation of his garden, and the study of ship-building, and some other mechanical pursuits, for which he had a liking. The hours between nine and four he almost invariably spent in his studio. He latterly found another kind of employment for his leisure, in planning out the environs of his little villa, which consisted of about ten acres, in lots for building, and in designing the architectural elevations of a little group of streets with which the ground was to be occupied. It may readily be supposed that in this task he manifested a superiority of taste, corresponding in some measure with his supremacy in another branch of art. The suburb which has arisen upon his property, and which was only com- menced in his own lifetime, is accordingly conspicuous for the elegance dis- played both in its general arrangement and in its details ; and has become a favourite residence with such individuals as do not find it necessary for profes- sional reasons to live nearer the centre of the city.

In 1814, Raeburn was made an associate of the Royal Academy, and in the subsequent year he became an Academician. He afterwards obtained, from foreign countries, many honours of the same kind. In 1822, when George IV visited Scotland, the long-established fame of Raeburn, together with his for- tune and gentlemanly manners, pointed him out as an individual in whom the king might signify his respect for Scottish art, and he was accordingly knighted at Hopetoun House, on the last day of his majesty's residence in the country. Some weeks afterwards, his brethren in art, now increased to a large and re- spectable body, gave him a dinner, as a token of their admiration of his talents and character. In his speech on this occasion, he said modestly that he was glad of their approbation, and had tried to merit it ; for he had never indulged in a mean or selfish spirit towards any brother artists, nor had at apy time withheld the praise which was due to them, when their works happened to be mentioned.

Sir Henry received afterwards the appointment of portrait-painter to hig majesty for Scotland; a nomination, however, which was not announced to him till the very day when he was seized with his last illness. The king, when conferring the dignity of knighthood, had expressed a wish to have a portrait of himself painted by this great artist ; but Sir Henry's numerous engagements prevented him from visiting the metropolis for that purpose. It reflects great honour on the subject of this memoir, that he never gave way to those secure and indolent habits, which advanced age and established reputation are so apt to engender. He continued, with all the enthusiasm of a student, to seek and to attain farther improvement. The pictures of his two or three last years are unquestionably the best that he ever painted. But perhaps the most interesting