His style of portrait painting is considered less refined than that of Thomas Gainsborough and Sir Joshua Reynolds, who were both still alive when Raeburn was a young man. In this respect, he is seen as having anticipated the more impressionistic styles which became popular in the latter half of the 19th century.
The Whigs were a British political party in existence from the late 17th century to the mid-19th century. They were in opposition to the Tories, and formed the main body of the Liberal Party when it was established in 1859.
Leaders of the Whig party who became influential prime ministers include Sir Robert Walpole (1676-1745); William Pitt the Elder (1708-1778) and Viscount Palmerston (1784-1865).
Madame de Pompadour (1721-1764), whose full name and title was Jeanne Antoinette Poisson, Marquise de Pompadour, was the fourth official mistress of Louis XV of France. Her nickname amongst her family and friends was Reinette ('little queen').
She married at the age of 19, and had two children with her husband, but the couple's official separation was announced following her installation in 1745 as Louis' mistress, a position she retained until her death. It was King Louis who gave her the title Madame de Pompadour.
Originally, crinoline was the name given to a stiff fabric which was used for making ladies' pettitcoats. However, from 1850 onwards, the term cage crinoline was used to describe a rigid steel structure which women wore under the skirts of their dresses to give them shape. This structure was essentially the same as the farthingale which had been used to shape women's clothing in the late 15th, and 16th century.
In a short story entitled 'The Cage at Cranford' (1863), Elizabeth Gaskell writes about the arrival at an English provincial town of a fasionable French crinoline which was mistaken for a parrot's cage!
Click here to see an 1858 steel cage crinoline.
The minuet is an elegant dance for two people, which originated in France. It is also the name given to the music in 3/4 time which accompanies the dance.
Listen here on Spotify to Handel's minuet in G minor.
Listen here on Spotify to Beethoven's minuet in D major
Marie Antoinette (1755-1793) was the wife of King Louis XVI of France. Following the abolition of the monarchy in 1792 during the French Revolution, the royal couple were imprisoned with their family in the Temple Prison. Convicted of treason, both were executed by guillotine: Louis in January 1793, and Marie Antoinette in October of the same year.
Eleanor 'Nell' Gwyn (1650-1687) was one of the mistresses of King Charles II of England. She began her working life at the age of 13 as an 'orange girl' (a seller of fruit and other sweetmeats) at the Bridges Street Theatre in London and graduated to be an actress there. She became the King's mistress in 1668 and gave birth to his son in 1670 (the king's seventh son by five different mistresses). Nell Gwyn outlived Charles II and was awarded a £1500 a year pension by his successor, James II.