Three-quarter-length portrait of Playfair, sitting in a heavy black coat, occupying the right-hand side of the canvas. He is seated in a chair, his left hand folded across his chest, his right extended along the arm of his chair. Behind is a large globe and a table on which are three books. A red cutrain is draped very effectively across the picture behind the sitter.
The composition is remarkable and the picture shows Raeburn's style at its most fully developed stage. Though less daring than the Robison portrait, it stands as a very perfect example of the painter's mature work. There is another version in the National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, one painted by William Nicholson, the other a bust by Sir Francis Chantrey. A small portrait is in the Rooms of the Geological Society at Burlington House.
Where to see this painting?
University of Edinburgh
Not all paintings are on display. If you want to see a particular painting, please contact the collection