Recommend to your Librarian

Henry Raeburn

Context, Reception and Reputation

Edited by Viccy Coltman, Stephen Lloyd


The first illustrated scholarly work devoted to the reception and reputation of Edinburgh's premier Enlightenment portrait painter.

Sir Henry Raeburn (1756-1823) is especially well known in Scotland as the portrait painter of members of the Scottish Enlightenment. However, outside Scotland, the artist rarely makes more than a fleeting appearance in survey books about portraiture.

Ten international scholars recover Raeburn from his artistic isolation by looking at his local and international reception and reputation, both in his lifetime and posthumously. It focuses as much on Edinburgh and Scotland as on metropolitan markets and cosmopolitan contexts. Previously unpublished archival material is brought to light for the first time, especially from the Innes of Stow papers and the archives of the dukes of Hamilton.

Key Features
  • 11 chapters each looking at different aspects of Raeburn's professional career
  • International scholars contributing to Raeburn studies for the first time
  • Interdisciplinary perspectives setting a new agenda for Raeburn studies
  • Traditional art analysis integrated with cultural, social, political and economic history
  • Includes much unpublished archival material


Viccy Coltman and Stephen Lloyd
‘Indiscriminate praise is little better than censure’: critical contexts for understanding Raeburn’s portraiture, Stephen Lloyd
‘I cannot coin money for them’: Raeburn in the nexus of patronage, the art market and global trade, Stephen Lloyd
Scotland’s Canova and the immortal Raeburn, Helen E. Smailes
Raeburn’s John Hope, 4th Earl of Hopetoun: the ‘knotty’ business of portrait painting in London and Edinburgh in the 1810s, Viccy Coltman
In the shadow of Napoleon: the 10th Duke of Hamilton and Raeburn, Godfrey Evans
Raeburn and the print culture of Edinburgh c.1790-1830: constructing enlightened and national identities, Stana Nenadic
A portrait of the artist in London: the critical reception of Raeburn’s Royal Academy exhibits, 1792-1823, Nicholas Tromans
The critique of the modern French school of painting from Reynolds to Constable, Philippe Bordes
Raeburn in America: Scottish-American art networks, 1791-1845, Robyn Asleson
Raeburn and Goya: the redefinition of artistic personality, Sarah Symmons
Allan Cunningham’s presentation of Henry Raeburn as a model Scottish gentleman in artistic practice, Matthew Craske
Synonymous with manly portraits: re-evaluating Raeburn’s women, Jordan Mearns
Raeburn in France, Olivier Meslay
Raeburn and the revival of mezzotint portraiture, 1890-1930, David Alexander
List of Illustrations
Select Bibliography
Notes on Contributors

About the Author

Dr Viccy Coltman is a Senior Lecturer and Head of History of Art at the University of Edinburgh, where she specialises in visual and material culture in the long eighteenth century. The author of two books and one edited book, she is currently working on a study of Scots in metropolitan, cosmopolitan and imperial contexts from 1745 to 1832.

Dr Stephen Lloyd is Curator of the Derby Collection at Knowsley Hall on Merseyside. He was Senior Curator at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh (1993-2009) and President of ICOM's International Committee for Museums and Collections of Fine Arts (2004-2010). He has authored many exhibition catalogues for the National Galleries of Scotland, is co-author of Henry Raeburn and his Printmakers (2006) and The Intimate Portrait: Portrait Drawings, Miniatures and Pastels fromRamsay to Lawrence (2008-9).


Viccy Coltman and Lloyd, together with their fellow contributors, are to be congratulated on this well-balanced assemblage of rewarding and stimulating texts, which enormously widen and enhance our understanding of Raeburn.
- Richard Green, The Burlington Magazine

This fresh and engaging volume is certain to stir new interest in the works of Sir Henry Raeburn, the great portrait painter of the age of the Scottish Enlightenment. A key strength of the book is that it ranges across a number of disciplinary approaches and beyond the normal conventions of history of art into political, economic, cultural and social history, thus ensuring appeal to a wide readership as well as successfully setting Raeburn within a national and international context.

Professor Tom Devine, Personal Senior Professor in History, University of Edinburgh

Henry Raeburn: context, reception and reputation' provides a stimulating set of perspectives on one of the most interesting artists of late Georgian Britain. The essays gathered here, written by a group of distinguished academics, curators and independent scholars, are consistently thought-provoking, original and revealing, and collectively constitute a very welcome reassessment of the artist's work and career. This skilfully edited book promises to transform the ways in which we think about Raeburn's paintings and about the worlds of portraiture in which he and his canvases played such a fascinating part.

Professor Mark Hallett, Head of History of Art at York University

- Professor Tom Devine, Personal Senior Professor in History, University of Edinburgh
Offers great insight into a remarkable artist who holds a unique position in the canon of Scotland's best loved painters.
- Helen Dyson, Art Scottish Art News

‘Overall, these essays offer thoughtful and often provocative assessments of Raeburn’s art, the context of his times and his place in British cultural history. They attest to the current vitality of Raeburn studies–scholarship soon to be augmented by a modern, full-scale catalogue of Raeburn’s paintings.’

- William S. Rodner, Department of History, Old Dominion University, Journal of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland