Sir Henry Raeburn (British, Stockbridge, Scotland 1756–1823 Edinburgh, Scotland)
Oil on canvas
35 1/4 x 27 1/4 in. (89.5 x 69.2 cm)
Bequest of Helen Swift Neilson, 1945
Not on view
Janet Law was the third daughter and one of seven children of Janet Pilmor Law and Mungo Law of Pittillock, Fife. Her father was a major in the Royal Scots Greys. Janet first married Walter Wemyss of Lathockar, Fife, in 1775, and later Colin Lauder, M.D., and died without issue. In 1770 her sister Isabella married John Berry of Tayfield, Fife. In the sale catalogues of 1912 and 1926 (see Provenance), Janet is confused with her sister Isabella. Raeburn also painted Janet's sister Agnes and her husband, Captain George Makgill of Kemback and Fingask, Fife. Those two portraits were included in the Holms sale of 1912 with the present work. Logic would suggest that Janet's portrait may have descended in the family of Captain and Mrs. Makgill, though no evidence to that effect has been found.
The picture must date from the 1790s. It is first recorded in 1908.
[2010; adapted from Baetjer 2009]
?[French Gallery, Edinburgh and London]; John A. Holms (by 1908–12; sale, Christie's, London, July 12, 1912, no. 85, as "Miss Janet Law, afterwards Mrs. Berry, of Tayfield, Fife," for £5,040 to Wertheimer); [Asher Wertheimer, London, from 1912]; Adolph Hirsch; Mr. Wild; E. H. Cuthbertson (until 1926; sale, Christie's, London, May 14, 1926, no. 105, as "Miss Janet Law, afterwards Mrs. Berry, of Tayfield, Fife," for £680 to Palmer); [Scott & Fowles, New York, 1927; sold to Neilson]; Helen Swift (Mrs. Francis) Neilson, Chicago (1927–d. 1945)
Edinburgh. French Gallery. "Pictures by Sir Henry Raeburn, R.A., and Others," November 1909, no. 2 (as "Miss Janet Law of Kembach House, Fifeshire").
London. French Gallery. "Pictures by Sir Henry Raeburn, R.A.," 1911, no. 2.
The Masterpieces of Raeburn. London, 1908, p. 52, ill., as Miss Margaret Law, in the collection of John A. Holmes, with an errata slip correcting the title to Miss Janet Law.
James L. Caw. Portraits by Sir Henry Raeburn. Edinburgh, 1909, unpaginated, ill.
James Greig. Sir Henry Raeburn, R.A.: His Life and Works. London, 1911, p. 50.
"Stattgehabte Auktionen." Der Cicerone 4 (1912), p. 650, mentions the 1912 sale of this portrait of Janet Law, for £5,040 to A. Wertheimer, together with those of her brother-in-law, Captain George Makgill of Kemback, for £787 to Wallis, and his wife, born Agnes Law, for £4,095, also to Wertheimer; observes that the three portraits, with landscape backgrounds, were painted before 1797.
Katharine Baetjer. British Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1575–1875. New York, 2009, pp. 162–63, no. 78, ill. (color).