National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of The Binning Children Sir Henry Raeburn (artist)
Scottish, 1756 - 1823
The Binning Children, probably c. 1811
oil on canvas
overall: 128.8 x 102.7 cm (50 11/16 x 40 7/16 in.) framed: 154.3 x 128.9 cm (60 3/4 x 50 3/4 in.)
Given in memory of John Woodruff Simpson
1942.5.2
Not on View
From the Tour: British and American Grand Manner Portraits of the 1700s
Object 8 of 12

David Monro Binning from Perthshire, Scotland, commissioned this double portrait of the two sons, George and Alexander, he had with his first wife. The boys wear identical suits with fur-trimmed hats. Their flared white collars and pale auburn hair draw attention to their faces, which are aligned on a diagonal axis cutting across the composition. George, the elder brother, is presumably the one who holds a riding crop; his younger brother, Alexander, looks out at the viewer. The autumnal russets and golds and the sketchy brushwork in the sky and foliage superbly characterize Henry Raeburn’s style. The smooth modeling of the flesh and clothes, though, is a late influence from Thomas Lawrence.

Raeburn apprenticed at sixteen to a goldsmith, soon taking up painting miniature likenesses as an extension of the jeweler’s art. After some training in London and Italy, he quickly rose as Scotland’s foremost painter, joining the landed gentry in Edinburgh. The handsome Raeburn was a prolific portraitist as well as an avid sportsman—golfer, archer, hunter, and angler.

Although Raeburn shipped pictures to London for exhibition at the Royal Academy, his election to life membership was delayed until 1815, when an opening occurred upon the demise of a full academician. Only a year before his own death, Raeburn finally was knighted during King George IV’s visit to Scotland.

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