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Burns

Robert Burns

Jessie Lewars, Mrs Thomson

Period:
19th Century
Description:

A stippled steel plate engraving from an earlier (c 1820) portrait of the young neighbour who nursed Robert Burns during his final illness.

 

Jessy Lewars was the sister of one of Robert Burns' colleagues in the Excise service. She was a neighbour of the Burns family when they moved to their house in Mill Street, Dumfries and became a close friend of Jean Armour Burns, helping her with the children and the care of her husband during his illness.

 

Jessie had a fine voice and Burns was inspired to write the song "O Wert Thou in the Cauld Blast" by her singing. During his final illness as she nursed him, he became increasingly fond of her and she is the subject of several of his last works. After his death her friendship with Jean Armour Burns continued and she remained a support to the family, caring for the four small brothers.

 

This portrait of Jessy Lewars was published in "The Land of Burns - A series of Landscapes and Portraits, Illustrative of the Life and Writings of the Scottish Poet". This was published in 1846 by Blackie and Son of Glasgow. At this time the development of steel plate engraving made it possible for images to be reproduced in much greater numbers than previous printing technology had allowed. Books such as this one, illustrated by engravings of works by eminent artists, became popular, although they were still expensive and beyond the pocket of most people.

Materials/Media:
paper
Dimensions:
width: 115 mm, length: 130 mm
Source:
Dumfries Museum & Camera Obscura
Accession number:
DUMFM:0199.72 [Land of Burns, Volume II]
Digital Number:
DMBN197n
Creation Date:
1846
Copyright:
Dumfries & Galloway Council