Born in Stockbridge, near Edinburgh, the second son of a mill owner, Raeburn was orphaned at the age of six. His brother placed him in George Heriot's hospital (a home for orphans) in 1765, where he received a classical education and learned the rudiments of gentlemanly behavior. From 1772 to 1778 he was apprenticed to James Gilliland, a goldsmith and jeweler, and began to paint miniatures. Largely self-taught as an artist, without formal classes in draRsmanship or anatomy, he may have received some instruction from David Deuchar, an engraver and etcher. His first known attempt at full-scale portraiture is Ceorge Chalmers, about 1776 (Dunfermline, Town Council). In 1784, shortly before Raeburn leR for Italy, he met Sir Joshua Reynolds, who gave him introductions to Pompeo Batoni and Gavin Hamilton. While the Roman experience leR little mark on his work, Raeburn was impressed by the sculpture he viewed and may have been inspired also to a fuller use of color and chiaroscuro. He returned to Edinburgh at the age of thirty to become its leading portraitist. He visited London in 1819 to determine the feasibility of establishing a studio there, but the keen competition persuaded him to return to Edinburgh. There he worked in comparative isolation from the changing fashions in London, although he exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1792 to 1823. President of the Society of Scottish Painters in 1812, Raeburn was admitted to full membership in the Royal Academy in 1815, was knighted in 1822, and was appointed King's Limner and Painter for Scotland in 1823, the year he died.