Allan Ramsay

Janet Carmichael, Later Countess of Hyndford

1750

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Artist
Allan Ramsay 1713–1784
Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 755 x 630 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Purchased 1984
Reference
T03852

Not on display

Summary

Janet Grant (died 1818) was the eldest daughter of William Grant, Lord Prestongrange, Lord Advocate of Scotland from 1746 to 1754. On 16 January 1749/50 she married John Carmichael Esq. (1710-87) of Castle Craig. Her husband succeeded his cousin the 3rd Earl, who was painted by Ramsay in 1753, as 4th Earl of Hyndford in 1767. The marriage remained childless and Lady Hyndford's Prestongrange inheritance passed in 1818 to the Grant-Suttie descendants of her sister Agnes.

Ramsay painted another portrait of Janet Carmichael c.1752-3. It is similar in size to this portrait, but without a false oval and facing right, and was made as a pendant to a portrait of her husband by Agostino Masucci, painted in Rome in 1742 (collection Carmichael family). Another likeness of her can be found in the pair of three-quarter-length portraits painted of her and her husband by John Thomas Seton in 1773 (collection Carmichael family).

The Tate's portrait may have been painted for the sitter's father, Lord Prestongrange (1701-64). Ramsay painted Lord Prestongrange's wife in 1749 and painted him in 1751; both portraits, signed and dated and of the same size as this one, were sold in the same sale as this picture by the executors of the late Sir George Grant-Suttie (Sotheby's, London, 14 April 1948).

This portrait was painted at a time when Ramsay was in great demand and soon after the death in 1749 of his best drapery painter, Joseph Van Aken. The composition typically combines a frequently repeated pose and draperies with a robustly modelled, characterful head, painted in the forthright and virile manner which Ramsay employed at this period. After his second trip to Italy in 1754-7, his style took on more Continental influences.

Further reading:
Alastair Smart, The Life and Art of Allan Ramsay, London 1952, pp.54, 210 no.LXXXII
The Tate Gallery 1984-86: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1988, pp.76-7, reproduced

Terry RiggsJanuary 1998

Catalogue entry

Allan Ramsay 1713-1784

T03852 Janet Carmichael, Later Countess of Hyndford 1750

Oil on canvas 755 x 630 (29 3/4 x 24 11/16) Inscribed 'A. Ramsay | 1750' in b.r. spandrel and in a later script 'Janet. Grant. | Countess, of. Hyndford.' t.l.
Purchased (Grant-in-Aid) 1984
Prov: Presumably painted for the sitter's family and by descent via her sister Agnes, who married Sir George Suttie, 3rd Bt, in 1757, to Sir George Grant-Suttie, 7th Bt; sold by his executors, Sotheby's 14 April 1948 (101) ₤388.10s. bt Agnew; ...; MacNicol Galleries, Glasgow, by 1953, sold to Barclay Hogarth, Shandon, by 1954; Mrs Nancy T. Hogarth; ...; anon. sale, Christie's 16 March 1984 (78, repr.) ₤13,000 bt Leggatt for Tate Gallery
Exh: MacNicol Galleries, Glasgow, May-June 1953 (no cat.); Pictures on Loan from Private Collections, Victoria Hall, Helensburgh 1954 (68, repr. in col. on cover)
Lit: J.W. Buchan (ed.), A History of Peebleshire, 1925-7, III, p.228; A. Smart, The Life and Art of Allan Ramsay, 1952, pp.54, 210 no.LXXXII

Janet Grant (d.1818), eldest daughter of William Grant, Lord Prestongrange, Lord Advocate of Scotland 1746-54, married John Carmichael Esq (1710-87) of Castle Craig on 16 January 1749/50; her husband succeeded his cousin the 3rd Earl - who was painted by Ramsay in 1753 - as 4th Earl of Hyndford in 1767. The marriage remained childless and Lady Hyndford's Prestongrange inheritance passed in 1818 to the Grant-Suttie descendants of her sister Agnes.

Ramsay painted another portrait of her c. 1752-3 (Buchan 1925-7, p.228, repr; exh. Allan Ramsay, RA 1964, no.24), similar in size but without a false oval and facing right, as a pendant to a portrait of her husband by Agostino Masucci, painted in Rome in 1742. Another excellent likeness of her can be found in the pair of three-quarter-lengths painted of her and her husband by John Thomas Seton in 1773 which, like the preceding pictures, are still in the collection of the Carmichael family.

The portrait may have been painted for the sitter's father, as Lord Prestongrange (1701-64) was painted by Ramsay in 1751 and his wife in 1749; both paintings, signed and dated and of the same size as this, were sold in the same sale as T03852 by the executors of the late Sir George Grant-Suttie (102, ₤441 the pair, bt Doig, Wilson, & Wheatley).

Dating as it does from a time when Ramsay was in great demand and soon after the death in 1749 of his best drapery painter, Joseph Van Aken, the composition typically combines a frequently repeated pose and draperies with a robustly modelled, characterful head, painted in the forthright and virile manner which Ramsay employed at this period, before he began to develop a softer and more elegantly French style after his second trip to the continent in 1754-7.

Before its sale in 1948, the painting was for some time on loan to Musselborough Golf Club, Prestongrange. A copy of this painting, plausibly ascribed to Raeburn, belongs to the Dundas family at Arniston House (one of the sitter's sisters married into the Dundas family) and is now on permanent loan to The Georgian House, Edinburgh (National Trust for Scotland).

(The compiler would like to thank Professor Alastair Smart for kindly putting at her disposal his typescript catalogue entry on the painting for his forthcoming book on the artist, to be published by the Yale University Press and the Paul Mellon Centre, London.)

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1984-86: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions Including Supplement to Catalogue of Acquisitions 1982-84, Tate Gallery, London 1988, pp.76-7