In late March and early April 1801, the seventeen-year old son of Edward Satchwell Fraser and Jane Fraser of Reelig traveled to Edinburgh from his family home in Inverness-shire en route to London. It was the first of William Fraser’s numerous visits to the studio of Sir Henry Raeburn, where this dashing portrait was painted. The finished portrait was dispatched to the family dining room in northern Scotland while its sitter was relocated to Delhi as a colonial servant of the East India Company. William fell under the Mughal spell, fathering numerous children from his harem of five or six Muslim and Hindu wives. He never returned to Scotland, for he was assassinated while commissioner of Delhi in 1835.
Commissioned in 1801 by the sitter's father, Edward Satchwell Fraser (1751-1835), Reelig, Scotland; his son James Baillie Fraser (1783-1856); his widow, Jane Fraser Tytler (d. 1861); his sister, Jane Anne Catherine Fraser (1797-1881); her grandson, Philip Affleck Fraser, 1879; Fraser sale, Christie's, London, 10 July 1897 (Lugt 55566), lot 26, sold to Agnew); [Galerie Sedelmeyer, Paris], 1908; M. Veil-Picard, Paris; Maurice Kann, Paris, his sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, 9 June 1911 (Lugt 70050), lot 47; [Scott and Fowles, New York]. Acquired by Philip Lehman from Scott and Fowles in February 1912.