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William Forbes of Callendar, 1743 - 1815. Coppersmith and landowner

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William Forbes of Callendar, 1743 - 1815. Coppersmith and landowner 1798


  • Scottish Art
Forbes was a self-made man. The son of an Aberdeen merchant, he began work as a coppersmith and won a government contract to sheath ships' hulls in copper. With the fortune he made, he purchased the estates of Callendar and Linlithgow near Falkirk, which had been forfeited by the Jacobite Earl of Linlithgow after the 1715 Rising. He bought the estates at auction and is said to have astounded bystanders by producing a banknote for £100,000, specially printed for the occasion. Forbes paid sixty guineas (£63) for this portrait, one of Raeburn's finest full-lengths. The artist advised him to hang the picture 5 feet above the floor and said that it was best viewed at a distance of 22 feet (about 6.5 metres).

Glossary Open


Jacobitism was a movement to restore the descendants of the Stuart King James VII and II to the British throne. The first claimant, Prince James Francis Edward (known as 'the Old Pretender') was exiled first in France, then Italy, from where he planned unsuccessful attempts to claim the throne. His son Prince Charles Edward (known as 'Bonnie Prince Charlie' or 'the Young Pretender') famously invaded Britain in 1745, but after some military successes was finally defeated at Culloden in 1746.



  • Acc. No. PGL 327
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Size 236.80 x 150.50 cm (framed: 266.00 x 179.70 x 12.00 cm)
  • Credit Long loan in 1984