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The Paterson Children

Sir Henry Raeburn, RA (Stockbridge 1756 – Edinburgh 1823)

Category

Art / Oil paintings

Date

circa 1790 - 1793

Materials

Oil on canvas

Measurements

1257 x 1003 mm (49 1/2 x 39 1/2 in)

Place of origin

Scotland

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Collection

Polesden Lacey, Surrey (Accredited Museum)

On show at

Polesden Lacey, Surrey, London and South East, National Trust

NT 1246448

Caption

George (1778–1846), John (1778–1858) and Margaret (d.1845) Paterson, children of George and Anne Paterson, of Castle Huntly in Perthshire. This complex of image of sibling dynamics once formed a light-hearted counterpart to Raeburn’s portraits of the children’s parents. The younger brother, John, distracts his sister by waving the laden branch of an apple tree over her shoulder while he steals a fruit from her basket. George fixes the viewer with his gaze: does he protectively embrace his sister out of sincere affection, or is he complicit in the mischief?

Summary

Oil painting on canvas, The Paterson Children by Sir Henry Raeburn, RA (Stockbridge 1756 – Edinburgh 1823), circa 1790-3. Three three-quarter length portraits of the children of George Paterson of Castle Huntly, Perthshire and his wife the Honourable Mrs Paterson. The central figure is believed to be George (1778-1846), heir to his father, he pursued a military career; the other boy is thought to be John (1778 - 1858), who became Commander of an East Indiaman and the girl is thought to be Margaret who died unmarried in 1845. They are standing in a landscape, to front; a tree at the right. The central figure, George, is wearing mustard-coloured trousers and a scarlet jacket, and Margaret, his sister, to the left is wearing a white dress with blue sash looking to the left. The boy to the right, in similar mustard-coloured trousers and a dark jacket is their brother John. George stands with his right arm around his sister’s shoulders, and takes her right hand in his left. John holds an apple bough over her head while he takes an apple from the basket she is holding.

Provenance

Originally part of the Paterson collection at Castle Huntly, Perthshire; by descent to Charles James George Paterson (1858 - 1937); sold by him to Thomas Agnew & Son, 5 February 1913; Arthur Henderson, 26 May 1913; back in Agnew's by 6 November 1913; to Gerard Lee Bevan (1869 - 1936), 4 February 1914; back at Agnew's, January 15 1917; sold by Agnew's to Margaret Greville (1863-1942) on 13 March 1918 for £23,000. Bequeathed in 1942 by Margaret Helen Greville DBE (1863-1942) to the National Trust along with the Polesden Lacey Estate in memory of her father William McEwan MP (1827-1913). [The probate inventory of January 1943 shows this item on the record for Polesden Lacey pictures, drawings etc., the Gun Room Lavatory, page 131.]

Credit line

Polesden Lacey, The McEwan Collection (National Trust)

Makers and roles

Sir Henry Raeburn, RA (Stockbridge 1756 – Edinburgh 1823), artist

References

Armstrong 1901 Sir Walter Armstrong, Sir Henry Raeburn, with an introduction by R. A. M. Stevenson, and a biographical and descriptive catalogue by J. M. Caw, New York, 1901, pp.56, 62, 63, 110 Pinnington 1904 Edward Pinnington, Sir Henry Raeburn, RA, London, 1904, p.244, no.529 Caw, 1909: Sir James Lewis Caw, Masterpieces in Colour: Raeburn: London, 1909, p.13 Greig 1911 James Greig, Sir Henry Raeburn, R.A. His Life and Works With a Catalogue of his Pictures, London, 1911, p.55 Irwin 1975 David & Francina Irwin, Scottish Painters at Home and Abroad 1700-1900, London, 1975, pp.158-9 The Art of Sir Henry Raeburn 1756-1823, (ed. Duncan Thomson) exh. cat., Scottish National Portrait Gallery, 1997, p.161 & fig.67, p.162 Mackie 1993 David Mackie, Raeburn: Life and Art, unpublished PhD thesis, Edinburgh University, 1993, pp.723-724

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