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Robert Burns, 1759 - 1796. Poet 1787


  • Scottish Art
  • Must See
This half-length portrait of Burns, framed within an oval, has become the most well-known and widely reproduced image of the famous Scottish poet. Nasmyth's painting, commissioned by the publisher William Creech, was to be engraved for a new edition of Burn's poems. He is shown fashionably dressed against a landscape, evoking his rural background in Alloway, Ayrshire. Burns and Nasmyth had become good friends, having been introduced to one another in Edinburgh by a mutual patron, Patrick Miller of Dalswinton. Nasmyth, pleased to have recorded Burns' likeness convincingly, decided to leave the painting in a slightly unfinished state.

Glossary Open


When an individual or organisation employs an artist to execute a particular project, the process and the resulting work are termed a ‘commission’.


The printmaking technique in which an image is inscribed on a copper plate with a tool that cuts a groove in the surface. This groove holds the ink that creates the print when it is applied to paper. Also refers to the method of making an incision on a material such as glass.


The support given to artists by an individual or organisation, usually through buying or funding their work.

Commission, Engraving, Patronage


  • Acc. No. PG 1063
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Size 38.40 x 32.40 cm (framed: 63.50 x 57.00 x 9.00 cm)
  • Credit Bequeathed by Colonel William Burns 1872