The Rev. Robert Walker skating on Duddingston Loch | Sir Henry Raeburn | 1790

The Rev. Robert Walker skating on Duddingston Loch | Sir Henry Raeburn | 1790

The Rev. Robert Walker skating on Duddingston Loch | Sir Henry Raeburn | 1790

As Henry Raeburn never left Scotland, he had little access to the general public and he didn’t have the chance to relate with his London pairs. However, for exactly the same reason, the artist kept his individuality and managed to become one of the most important artists of his country.

His most famous and controversial painting is, with no doubt, The Rev. Robert Walker skating on Duddingston Loch, also called The skating minister. The authorship of this painting is still discussed as most of Raeburn’s works portrayed individuals posing ecstatic, never in motion.

The story tells that the reverend grew up in the Netherlands, where he leaned to skate on ice. When he returned to Scotland, he participated in the founding of the first figure skating club of the world: the Edinburgh Skating Club. Its participants generally met on a frozen lake in the outskirts of the city, like the Duddingston Lake. In the painting, we see the reverend sliding gracefully and effortless over the ice. Beginners in skating probably would balance their posture with their arms wide open, but this is not the case of the minister, a professional in those matters.

Raeburn’s painting was almost unknown until 1949, when it was acquired by the National Gallery of Scotland; and, today, it is recognized as one of the most important works of the country.

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~ by Álvaro Mazzino on March 17, 2011.

5 Responses to “The Rev. Robert Walker skating on Duddingston Loch | Sir Henry Raeburn | 1790”

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