Tuesday

Carlyle, T- portrait of man, possibly Thomas Carlyle

This miniature is possibly an early portrait of the fam0us Scottish writer Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881). For much more about him see Thomas Carlyle

Carlyle's books and articles are believed to have inspired social commentators like Charles Dickens and John Ruskin.

The portrait is apparently unsigned, although not removed from its frame. There is glass on the reverse, covering an inscription on the reverse reading "T Carlyle 1816" together with a Latin inscription. In 1816 Carlyle was a young teacher aged 21. The dress and hairstyle fit this date, as does the age of the sitter.

There was also an artist named T Carlyle active around 1816, so it could also be the artist's signature on the reverse.

Unfortunately I can only remember "hic, haec, hoc" from my Latin study, so I cannot translate it, but it appears to read "I.M. biges. Am. quartoque. mens. Atat. su." Any informed suggestions of the correct translation will be gratefully received.

The previous owner suggested that the miniature might possibly be painted by Adam Hope and stated there was a reference by Carlyle, saying his book in "Reminiscences" that he had had his portrait painted in 1816 by a friend, but to date that reference has not been located.

However, a search has been made for other comparable portraits of Carlyle in an effort to compare them with the sitter. Three have been found and there are certainly some similarities. The full face bust portrait of Carlyle at age 46 (in 1841) is the frontispiece in his 1903 book "New Letters and Memorials of Jane Welsh Carlyle". The portrait seems to have the same piercing eyes as the miniature.

The other two portraits are of Carlyle at a youngish age, although none seem to be as early as 1816, as they both appear to show sideburns. Sideburns were not fashionable for men in 1816 and it was really after 1820 that they became fashionable. White neck wear as in the miniature was fashionable up to around 1820, with black neck ties as shown in the other portraits, becoming the dominant colour by around 1830.

Thus to date, there is no confirmation of the sitter. 1222

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