Portrait painter. Raeburn was born in modest surroundings in the Stockbridge area of Edinburgh, where he was later to own two valuable estates. Orphaned at a young age, he was raised by his elder brother and schooled at Heriot's Hospital. At 15, he became an apprentice goldsmith and began painting miniatures. Raeburn left to study in Italy in 1784, returning in 1787 to set up a studio in Edinburgh's George Street. He is particularly noted for his portraits of most of the society figures of his day, including author Sir Walter Scott (1771 - 1832), geologist James Hutton (1726 - 97), fiddler Neil Gow (1727 - 1807), mathematician John Playfair (1748 - 1819) and philosophers Adam Ferguson (1723 - 1816) and David Hume (1711-76).
Raeburn acquired the Deanhaugh Estate (Stockbridge) through marriage and purchased the neighbouring St Bernard's estate later. He prospered through feuing these for building the New Town extension of Stockbridge. Raeburn was knighted at Hopetoun House by King George IV during his visit to Scotland of 1822.
The University of Edinburgh has a major collection of his works.