James Cruikshank (d. 1830), of Langley Park, Montrose, Forfarshire (now County Angus), was a businessman who made a large fortune from sugar plantations in the British West Indies. In 1792 he married Margaret Helen (d. 1823), daughter of the Rev. Dr. Alexander Gerard of Aberdeen. They had six children. No record for the commission of these pendant portraits has been found, but a dating of between 1805 and 1808 has been suggested on stylistic grounds. Raeburn took a very straightforward approach to his sitters and developed a distinctive technique in which broadly brushed detail and strong unmodulated contrasts of light and dark give his figures a sculptural quality. In 1801, Joseph Farington described Raeburn’s portraits as having “an uncommonly true appearance of Nature.”

Source: Art in The Frick Collection: Paintings, Sculpture, Decorative Arts, New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1996.


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