Mrs. Shute, by 1902;
With Wallis & Son, French Gallery, London, 1910;
With Scott & Fowles, New York;
With Knoedler's, New York;
Mrs. Paul Moore, Hollow Hill Farms, Convent, New Jersey;
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1980.
From the early 1790's onwards, Raeburn began to adopt a new approach to his portraiture, placing his figures in bold poses against striking landscape backgrounds. The depiction of scenery (imagined or connected to the sitter) had been a component in British portraiture since the 17th Century, and this in and of itself was not an innovation. However, Raeburn began to approach it in a unique way, creating broadly painted, impressionistic landscapes, defined by golden light, evocative of his native Scotland, to serve as background to his sitters. These are almost proto-romantic in their conception, and the portraits of these years are undoubtedly amongst the artist's finest and most original works.
In this Portrait of Lord Hyndford, which can be dated to this period, Raeburn uses this device to particular effect. The young Earl is shown in his scarlet uniform, having returned from the army to private life (see below). He is seated in the park of his estate, and in an unusual addition for the artist, his grand house Mauldslie Castle can be seen in the distance (see fig. 1). Thomas Carmichael (circa 1750-1811), 6th Lord Carmichael and 5th Earl of Hyndford was the son of Daniel Carmichael of Mauldslie and his wife Emilia, the daughter of John Hepburn of Edinburgh. On the death of his older brother William in Calcutta in 1778, he inherited the family estate, and later succeeded his cousin John to the Earldom of Hyndford in 1787. The young Carmichael chose a site for his new house on a bluff over the river Clyde in Lanarkshire ("one of the richest and most charming prospects in Scotland" according to one contemporary commentator).1 Even more importantly, he hired the celebrated architect, Robert Adam, to design Mauldslie in the then fashionable "gothick" taste. At Thomas' death, the estate and titles passed to his brother Andrew, and eventually to a collateral branch of the family. The house was demolished in the mid-20th Century.
Based on photographs, Duncan Thomson has confirmed the attribution to Raeburn, and dates the picture to circa 1795/6 on stylistic grounds, as well as the fact that Lord Hyndford had mustered out of the army at just about this time. David Mackie has also confirmed the attribution, based on photographs, and dates the portrait to circa 1792-96. It will be included in his forthcoming complete catalogue of the works of Raeburn to be published by the Paul Mellon Centre, London and Yale University Press.
1. J. Denholm, A tour to the principle Scotch and English Lakes, 1804, p. 163.
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