Photo credit: The Highlanders' Museum
This portrait is part of our collection at The Highlanders' Museum. The frame contains a plaque attributing the work to Raeburn, but there was not sufficient evidence of this and therefore the attribution is not presently on Art UK. It is also not featured in Raeburn's catalogue raisonne: https://bit.ly/3qNkWOc
We have begun some research to prove that the work was painted by Raeburn, which we feel is worth exploring as the style and handling of the painting is absolutely typical of the artist. We know that Raeburn painted MacLeod's sister https://bit.ly/3tEaQkO
The work was gifted to the museum in 1996 by Mr John Campbell Macleod. [Group leaders: Bendor Grosvenor / Jacob Simon]
Just looking at it… Yes, it has definite Raeburn 'look'.
I found this painting entry from Bonham’s : https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/24239/lot/127/?category=list
The extra bio information may be useful to add and perhaps update his death date to 1809.
We know that he died during the Battle of Al Hammad in Egypt, part of the Alexandria expedition on 21st April 1807 - somehow Bonham's must have the date wrong!
The BM give the mezzotint inscription thus: “London Engraved by Jn. Young, Engraver in Mezzotinto to HRH the Prince of Wales, from a posthumous picture by Geo Watson / Published Feb 1 1809 by D.Hatton, 56 Princes Street". Did Watson base his posthumous picture on an earlier painting of his own or on a work by another artist such as the painting we are considering?
The 'Rosenberg Family Tree' on Ancestry shows that his father was Donald MacLeod. I have attached a screenprint from that tree.
A portrait of his father by Raeburn is on the Christie's website.
'Portrait of Donald MacLeod (1745-1834), 3rd of Geanies, Sheriff of Ross and Cromarty, half-length, seated, in a black coat with a red collar, his left hand holding a walking stick'
Please ignore the point re updating death date it looks correct according to the Macleod’s History of 1889 page 423.
See pdf of screenshot attached.
As to whether it is by Raeburn I'm inclined to say no it isn't.
From the image presented it seems to me that it is by an artist who is trying to get the look of a Raeburn portrait, but isn't quite succeeding in the quality you would expect from an autograph work.
The chiaroscuro seen in Raeburn's work isn't apparent here. It seems very bright and the broad brushwork which he is renowned for, particularly for creating depth and volume with such dramatic effect, is seemingly rather cursory. The head also doesn't appear to have much character and appears simplistic in comparison to other portraits by Raeburn.
I wonder what the type of canvas it is?. Raeburn was known to use top quality ones usually with a diagonal weave. That's sometimes how he manages to get such brilliant effects by dragging the brush across this more unusual weave. Again this doesn't seem apparent here but more up close photos might help and of course the image might just be a bright photograph which could be distorting things somewhat.
I would say that the military dress and background are typical of Raeburn's style at that period.
The head however is rather bland and inert. It looks to ne like Raeburn may have been commissioned to copy the face in the portrait of the sitter painted by a different artist (possibly from a
Dr Duncan Thomson is another authority on Raeburn, and I have alerted him to this portrait and the current discussion.
It looks more like sketch than a finished picture, and while it qualifies as style of Raeburn, I do not think it's fine enough to be autograph. It is certainly not on the level of Raeburn's portraits of the sitter's sister and father.
A version of this work was in a Chorley’s auction in 2016. I have attached a composite.
'Portrait of Lieutenant-Colonel Patrick McLeod [sic] of Geanies (d. 1807)'
In 1809 Raeburn was declared bankrupt after his son's Leith shipping business to the slavery and sugarcane plantations went bust.
For the rest of his life took on all kinds of portrait commissions including copies.
I have attached a composite based on an extract of the painting of his father. In my opinion, the artist would have been engaged by Donald MacLeod and briefed to make sure the son looked like his father but with the fresh glow of youth. Since the work was posthumous, there is less detail in the face than in the portrait of Donald MacLeod but the works seem very similar to me.
Do we know this is a posthumous portrait, in which case it could be based on a portrait by a lesser artist?
I mistakenly assumed it to be posthumous. It doesn’t have the medal that appears in the other two paintings of the sitter though.
I agree with Stephen Lloyd, close to R, most clearly int he drapery, but the face seems a little unlike him. Let's see what Duncan says.
Here, on page 650, is an image based on a painting of the same sitter by Raeburn, “in possession of Colin Mackenzie, Esq. of Portmore.”
I have attached a composite.
I wonder if this work was in the Christie’s auction of 22 March 1918 (“Catalogue of early British pictures : the property of the late Colin J. Mackenzie, Esq. of Portmore, Peebleshire, Scotland and pictures, the property of Lady Falle, also old pictures & drawings from various sources [G. B. Foster, Sir Frederick Sullurei, Miss Talbot]”).
Assuming it was thought to be by Raeburn at the time, then no, it was not. There were ten of Colin Mackenzie's Raeburns in the sale, and none was of a MacLeod. See attached.
Thank you for taking the time to search for that information, Osmund. I’m surprised that this work wasn’t in the sale.
Jacob Simon's contribution above should be addressed as the face is not unlike Watson's manner shown in several portraits of the first decade of the century
COULD THIS BE A PORTRAIT BY HENRY RAEBURN?
The above discussion question, dating to January last year, is about a portrait in the Highlanders’ Museum described as Lt Col. Patrick MacLeod of Geanies (1775–1807) by an unknown artist.
Given the mezzotint after Watson, the later engraving of our portrait (Marcie Doran, 04/07/2022) and its provenance, we can be reasonably confident that our portrait is correctly identified. It was given to the museum in 1996 by John Campbell Macleod according to the collection. Here is a list of other portraits.
1. By George Watson. Three-quarter length, in military uniform and wearing a medal, beside him a vase presented to him by Lloyds of London. Posthumous, according to the mezzotint engraving by John Young, published 1 February 1809 (my post, 21/01/2022). The painting, or a copy from it, was sold in 2017 (Bonhams, Knightsbridge, 19-20 December 2017, lot 127, post by Michael Hurman, 21/01/2022).
2. Anonymous. Half length, rather different and clearly by another hand (Chorley’s, 19 July 2016, lot 249, post by Marcie Doran, 22/01/2022)
3. By Alexander Galloway. One of nine miniatures in a frame of members of the Macleod family, two dated 1808, one 1810, apparently including our man at top centre (see attachment to this post). Not easy to make out and not necessarily one of the dated miniatures. Could this have been painted in our man’s lifetime and have served as the basis for posthumous portraits?
The collection writes in the introduction to this discussion, “The frame contains a plaque attributing the work to Raeburn, but there was not sufficient evidence of this and therefore the attribution is not presently on Art UK. It is also not featured in Raeburn's catalogue raisonne. ... We have begun some research to prove that the work was painted by Raeburn, which we feel is worth exploring as the style and handling of the painting is absolutely typical of the artist. We know that Raeburn painted MacLeod's sister”
My own view, having hosted Dr Duncan Thomson’s Raeburn exhibition at the NPG in the 1990s, is that this picture could be by Raeburn on the basis of Art UK’s online image. If posthumous, this could explain the portrait’s blandness.
Looking at circumstantial evidence, Raeburn was known to our man’s father who sat to him (Marcie Doran, 21/01/2022), There could be further circumstantial evidence if the collection wishes to investigate. Raeburn used distinctive frame styles and canvases. We know the names of his suppliers. If the frame is original, is it labelled? If the canvas is unlined, is it stamped? Does it have a diagonal weave (see Miles Barton, 21/01/2022)?