Completed Military History, Portraits: British 19th C, Scotland: Artists and Subjects 11 Is this portrait more than just a copy after Henry Raeburn?

Captain George Duff (1764–1805)
Topic: Artist

This is either by Raeburn or after him, for there is a mezzotint after this portrait by George Dawe which was published by Pasquale Garof in Edinburgh (impressions in the British Museum and in the National Portrait Gallery It seems likely from this image to be of sufficient quality to be by Raeburn. [assigned discussion leader: Pieter van der Merwe]

Martin Hopkinson, Entry reviewed by Art UK

1 attachment

Completed, Outcome

This discussion is now closed. The discussion has reaffirmed that this is a copy after Henry Raeburn and so the Art UK record remains unchanged.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the discussion. To anyone viewing this discussion for the first time, please see below for all the comments that led to this conclusion.


The Collection have commented about this painting online: ‘Raeburn's original kit-cat style portrait was painted about 1800 and a mezzotint from it by George Dawe was published in 1806, in Edinburgh, by the Italian carver/gilder and occasional printseller, Pasquale Garof of Hanover Street (see PAG9312). This painting is a copy presented to Greenwich Hospital in 1836 as by 'Geroff' by Duff's 'kinsman' James, Earl of Fife. Garof is not known to have been a painter (and Raeburn died in 1823) so the authorship and date of this version remains to be resolved as does current (2020) whereabouts of the original. A much later copy by Henry Macbeth-Raeburn (b. 1860) is on loan to the National Museum of the Royal Navy at Portsmouth.’

Jacinto Regalado,

It looks like a copy. It is not good enough to be autograph.

Jacob Simon,

Probably a copy as Jacinto says.

I wrote (or revised) the online catalogue entry cited above prompted by some passing reason I have now forgotten -I think more related to Garof than Duff or Raeburn, give it was an unusual aim to find in Edinburgh: further clarification would be welcome.

Jacob Simon,

Is there more to be said before we close this discussion?

I think Marcie's composite shows sufficient slight differences in detail, especially the collar area and hair, to show the mezzotint was made from the prime version of c. 1800. Duff, then commanding the 'Mars' was one of the two British captains (the other was George Cooke) killed at Trafalgar in 1805, which was no doubt the occasion for making the mezzotint. It would also have been one for Raeburn (or someone else) to make a copy of the portrait as another family commemorative piece. It needs someone expert in Raeburn to tell us if this one later given from the family to Greenwich Hospital is likely to be by him or not - though as I doubt it was taken from the mezzotint alone that suggests access to the original for the purpose.

Unless that can be rapidly answered I see no reason to leave the matter open.

Jacob Simon,

Pieter asks for a Raeburn expert. I’m not that person but having set up the Raeburn exhibition when it moved to the National Portrait Gallery in London from Edinburgh, I feel that I have sufficient experience to identify this work as a copy. And it was as a copy that it was donated in 1836 so its status was recognized at this early date.

On the basis of the preceding posts and subject to the input of the collection and my fellow group leaders, I recommend that we now close this discussion, “Is this portrait more than just a copy after Henry Raeburn?”, relating to a portrait of Captain George Duff in the National Maritime Museum. Our conclusion is that this is indeed a copy.

I agree and think I can say so for NMM, since it's not the museum which is raising the matter as one of doubt: its 'comment' quoted by David above is the existing online catalogue entry.

It would be interesting to know where the prime version now is, but there is no reason to delay closure because we do not.

To correct a slip of haste above: the second British captain killed with Duff at Trafalgar was John - not George - Cooke of the 'Bellerophon' (I was crossing wires with the engraver George C.):