• Old Master & 19th Century Pain auction at Christies

    Sale 2282

    Old Master & 19th Century Paintings, Drawings, & Watercolors

    27 January 2010, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 224

    Sir Henry Raeburn, R.A. (Edinburgh 1756-1823)

    Portrait of Sir Alexander Munro (b.1763/4), half-length

    Price Realised  

    Sir Henry Raeburn, R.A. (Edinburgh 1756-1823)
    Portrait of Sir Alexander Munro (b.1763/4), half-length
    inscribed 'Alexander Munro' (upper left)
    oil on canvas
    30 x 24¾ in. (76.2 x 62.9 cm.)


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    The sitter came from a Scottish Episcopalian family of some standing at Glasgow, merchants in the Virginia trade, who were bankrupted by the American War of Independence (1775-83). Presumably the sitter was the Alexander Munro born in Scotland in 1763/4, who on 3 May 1780 aged eighteen was appointed Cadet in the Honourable East India Company's Service and in whose List he appears. He sailed for India, in the Mount Stewart, 27 June 1780 but was captured by the combined French and Spanish fleets. He sailed again, in the Hinchinbrooke, on 13 March 1781; and after various promotions, resigned on 25 October 1793.

    There was a strong emphasis within the Munro family on education and the impressive career of the sitter's brother, Sir Thomas, in the military and civil governance of the Subcontinent was founded on his command of Indian languages. Sir Thomas was also painted by Raeburn (Christie's, London, 25 November 1942, lot 53) and that portrait is of comparable size and format to this (Mackie, nos. 558 and 557).

    Dating Raeburn is fraught with problems; however, the apparent age of the sitter might suggest that the portrait dates from approximately 1800 - 1810. We are grateful to Prof. David Mackie for confirming the attribution on the basis of photographs (private communication, 13 November 2009) and preparing the catalogue note. It is to be included in his forthcoming publication Complete Catalogue of Raeburn.

    Provenance

    (Presumably) By descent in the sitter's family to the widow of Walker Munro Esq, Alnefield, Brokenhurst, England.
    with Howard Young Galleries, New York, 1929.
    with Grand Central Art Galleries, New York, where purchased by
    Mr. and Mrs. Ralph H. Beaton, Columbus, Ohio, circa 1931.


    Literature

    D. Mackie, Complete Catalogue of Sir Henry Raeburn, R.A., Life and Art, unpublished PhD diss., University of Edinburgh, III, no. 557.


    Exhibited

    Columbus, Gallery of Fine Arts, Inaugural Exhibition, January-February 1931, no. 278.
    Ohio, Columbus Gallery of Fine Art, Masterpieces of Painting: Treasures of Five Centuries, 1 October-5 November 1950, no. 27.