This miniature watercolour on ivory was a treasured possession of Jean Armour Burns, the poet's wife. The likeness has been taken from the portrait of Robert Burns painted by Alexander Nasmyth in 1787.
When Robert Burns exchanged the role of farmer for that of Exciseman he moved with his family from Ellisland Farm into a tenement flat in Bank Street, Dumfries, close to the Whitesands and the River Nith.
Dumfries at that time was a lively town of some 5,600 inhabitants, mostly living tightly packed into tenement closes of red sandstone. The town was a busy port and in 1792 Burns was promoted to the Dumfries Port Division of the Excise.
During this period of his life he was also writing prolifically. In 1793 the family moved to a better quality house in Mill Street (now Burns Street).
Jean Armour Burns continued to live in this house after the poet's early death in 1796. She remained there for the rest of her life and by the time of her own death in 1834, the house had become a place of pilgrimage for Burns' admirers.
In the collection of Robert Burns House, Dumfries.