This is one of four known portraits of Hyndford: a three-quarter length version of this portrait by Jonathan Richardson the elder dated 1726 is in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh; a half-length portrait attributed to Cosmo Alexander of c.1750 is also in the Government Collection and a half-length portrait by Allan Ramsay of 1753 is in a private collection.
Born in Edinburgh, the sitter, John Carmichael, third Earl of Hyndford, was described by Thomas Carlyle as follows:
‘We can discern a certain rough tenacity and horse-dealer finesse in the man; a broad-based, shrewdly practical Scotch gentleman, wide awake; and can conjecture that the diplomatic function in that element might have been in worse hands.’
In this picture Hyndford is wearing the Order of the Thistle, which he received in recognition of his patience and persistence in ensuring the Treaty of Breslau was signed on 11 June 1742.
Jonathan Richardson senior was a portrait painter and a writer on art and literary topics. Born in London, Richardson was a pupil of John Riley, whose heir he eventually became. He helped to found the first Academy in England (the precursor of the Royal Academy) in 1711 and he and Charles Jervas were the busiest native-born portrait painters in rivalry with Kneller (from Germany) and Michael Dahl (from Sweden). Richardson's writings - especially ‘The Theory of Painting’, 1715, and, in collaboration with his son, the account of works of art the grand tourist should see in Italy, 1722 - were immensely influential and inspired Reynolds to become a painter. Richardson retired from painting in 1740 and died in London in May 1745.
John Carmichael, 3rd Earl of Hyndford (1701-1767), Ambassador to Vienna 1752-64
Oil on canvas
height: 239.00 cm, width: 145.00 cm
Purchased from Christie's, 23 November 1951
Collection of Reverend I. H. E. Whitaker; by whom sold, via Agnew’s Gallery, London, through Christie's, London, on 23 November 1951 (Lot 75); from which sale purchased by Agnew’s Gallery, London, on behalf of the Ministry of Works
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