Show Navigation

Photograph: Isabella Burns, Mrs John Begg, 1771 - 1858. Youngest sister of Robert Burns

Back

View Large Image

Isabella Burns, Mrs John Begg, youngest sister of Robert Burns

Introduction:
Isabella Burns Begg was the youngest sister of the poet, Robert Burns. She had a hard life, was widowed young and left with the rearing of nine children. She kept her family by setting up a village school.
Image Rights Holder:
Scottish National Portrait Gallery
Ref:
PGP HA 277
Project:
341:National Gallery of Scotland - Phase II
Material:
Calotype
Dimensions:
19.80 x 13.80 cm
What:
Photograph: Isabella Burns, Mrs John Begg, 1771 - 1858. Youngest sister of Robert Burns
Subject:
Hill was a great admirer of Burns and had published a large set of landscape paintings as The Land of Burns. Hill was familiar with the painted portrait of Burns and would have been much struck with the resemblance between the poet and his sister. Robert Burns died before photography was established but here, through this strongly expressed portrait of a woman, we can, astonishingly, grasp an idea of how the man might have looked in old age.
Who:
David Octavius Hill (maker)
Robert Adamson (maker)
Isabella Burns (Mrs John Begg) (depicted)
When:
1843 - 1846
Where:
Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh
Background:
Hill was a great admirer of Burns and had published a large set of landscape paintings as The Land of Burns. Hill was familiar with the painted portrait of Burns and would have been much struck with the resemblance between the poet and his sister. Robert Burns died before photography was established but here, through this strongly expressed portrait of a woman, we can, astonishingly, grasp an idea of how the man might have looked in old age.
Description:
In later years, she was allowed a picturesque cottage where she lived almost as a monument to her brother, entertaining 'hundreds upon hundreds from every corner of the United Kingdom and from the Continent and America'. Her obituary remarks: 'Hers was the natural manner which art cannot communicate and which is beyond convention'.