About this artwork

Taylor painted this half-length portrait of the famous Scottish poet following their meeting at a dinner party in December 1786. Robert Burns agreed to sit for the portrait the next morning and after three sittings it was complete. The differences between the poet’s appearance here and Alexander Nasmyth’s more famous portrait are obvious. Yet several of Burns’s contemporaries noted the likeness captured by Taylor, including Sir Walter Scott, “I would not hesitate to recognise this portrait as a striking resemblance of the Poet”. The painting was used as a basis for an engraving by John Horsburgh and a statue by John Greenshields. A larger version of the portrait that came to light in 1893 is also attributed to Taylor.

Peter Taylor

Peter Taylor