William Scott-Elliot of Arkleton (1811–1901)

Sir Henry Raeburn (British, Stockbridge, Scotland 1756–1823 Edinburgh, Scotland)

ca. 1815–16
Oil on canvas
47 3/8 x 36 5/8 in. (120.3 x 93 cm)
Credit Line:
Fletcher Fund, 1945
Accession Number:
  • Gallery Label

    The sitter, whose family were neighbors of the artist in Edinburgh, modelled for Raeburn at the painter's request. The portrait remained in the possession of the Raeburn family until 1877.

  • Catalogue Entry

    William Scott-Elliot's parents, Margaret Elliot of Arkleton and Adam Scott, married in 1807, at which time his father assumed the Elliot surname. They were Raeburn's neighbors in Edinburgh, and their only son remembered that he sat for his portrait at the artist’s request. The boy, born on March 22, 1811, was probably four or five years old at the time. This engaging portrait, twice exhibited by Raeburn, remained with the artist’s family until the 1877 sale, when it was bought for the sitter.

    In the 1920s, the costume was described as a pink or rose smock over short trousers of the same color (1927 sale catalogue and Brandus 1928), and some evidence of the color remains, particularly in the shadows. Such a change, to a muddy neutral tone that Raeburn cannot have intended, may be accounted for by fading of what must have been red lake glazing.

    [2010; adapted from Baetjer 2009]

  • Provenance

    the artist, Edinburgh (until d. 1823); Raeburn family, Edinburgh (1823–77; their sale, Christie's, London, May 7, 1877, no. 32, as "Study of a Child," for 240 gns., on behalf of the sitter); the sitter, William Scott-Elliot of Arkleton, Langholm (1877–d. 1901); his grandson, Walter Travers Scott-Elliot of Arkleton (1901–27; sale, Sotheby's, London, May 12, 1927, no. 87, for £12,600 to Gooden & Fox); [Gooden & Fox, London, 1927]; [Duveen, London, 1927; sold for $150,000 to Bache]; Jules S. Bache, New York (1927–d. 1944; Bache Foundation, 1944–45; cats., 1929, unnumbered; 1937, no. 59; 1943, no. 58; sold to MMA)

  • Exhibition History

    Edinburgh. Associated Society of Artists. 1815, no. 42 (as "Portrait of a Child").

    Edinburgh. Associated Society of Artists. 1816, no. 118 (as "Portrait of a Child").

    Edinburgh. Royal Scottish Academy. "Works of Deceased and Living Scottish Artists," October 1863, no. 43 (as "A Child," lent by John P. Raeburn).

    Edinburgh. Royal Academy, National Galleries. "Sir Henry Raeburn, R.A.," October–November 1876, no. 187 (as "Study of a Child," lent by the Raeburn Family).

    New York. Reinhardt Galleries. "Paintings of Women and Children by Masters from the Fifteenth to the Twentieth Century," February 23–March 16, 1929, no. 19 (lent by Jules S. Bache).

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Bache Collection," June 16–September 30, 1943, no. 58.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Small Illusions: Children's Costume 1710–1920," June 20–September 9, 1990, no catalogue.

  • References

    Walter Armstrong. Sir Henry Raeburn. London, 1901, p. 115, as Study of a Child, exhibited in Edinburgh in 1863 and 1876; sold at Christie's in 1877.

    Edward Pinnington. Sir Henry Raeburn, R.A. London, 1904, p. 225.

    Édouard Brandus. "La collection des tableaux anciens de M. Jules S. Bache, à New-York." La Renaissance 11 (May 1928), p. 184, as William Scott-Elliot of Arkleton, painted in 1815.

    "'Women and Children' Shown at Reinhardt's." Art News 27 (February 23, 1929), p. 1.

    A Catalogue of Paintings in the Collection of Jules S. Bache. New York, 1929, unpaginated, ill.

    Walter Heil. "The Jules Bache Collection." Art News 27 (April 27, 1929), p. 4, as painted about 1816.

    Alfred M. Frankfurter. "Paintings by Raeburn in America." Antiquarian 14 (January 1930), ill. p. 33.

    August L. Mayer. "Die Sammlung Jules Bache in New-York." Pantheon 6 (December 1930), p. 542.

    A Catalogue of Paintings in the Bache Collection. under revision. New York, 1937, unpaginated, no. 59, ill.

    Duveen Pictures in Public Collections of America. New York, 1941, unpaginated, no. 297, ill.

    A Catalogue of Paintings in the Bache Collection. rev. ed. New York, 1943, unpaginated, no. 58, ill.

    Katharine Baetjer. British Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1575–1875. New York, 2009, p. 174, no. 85, ill. (color).

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History