Sir Henry Raeburn (artist)|
Scottish, 1756 - 1823
Miss Eleanor Urquhart, c. 1793
oil on canvas
overall: 75 x 62 cm (29 1/2 x 24 7/16 in.) framed: 101.6 x 90.2 x 12.7 cm (40 x 35 1/2 x 5 in.)
Andrew W. Mellon Collection
Not on View
Object 6 of 8
This lovely Scottish woman was the eldest daughter of William Urquhart, 2d Laird of Craigston, Aberdeenshire. Her portrait and companion likenesses of her parents were paid for on 10 January 1794; the artist's receipt was preserved among Urquhart family papers.
It is unfortunate that nothing more is known of the sitter's life, because Miss Eleanor Urquhart is deemed by some connoisseurs to be Raeburn's masterpiece. The canvas resonates with cool grays and warm tans, the pale figure being set against the slightly darker tones of the background. Broad, loose strokes of the brush are applied with virtuoso flair. The soft sketchiness of the muslin dress and craggy mountains complements the fresh spontaneity of her face.
That this painting can be documented to just before 1794 is important because Raeburn did not keep studio account books and never dated any of his pictures. His style matured early, without much modification, after a few months in London and a year or two in Rome during the mid-1780s. So, it is difficult to establish a chronology for the more than one thousand portraits he made during a fifty-year career as Scotland's foremost painter. Although dedicated to his art, Raeburn need not have worked at all. At twenty-four, he had married a wealthy widow and become a member of Edinburgh society.
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