Historical Portraits Picture Archive

John Dalrymple, 6th Earl of Stair (1749-1821) 

John Smart (1741-1811)

John Dalrymple, 6th Earl of Stair (1749-1821), John Smart
Watercolour with pencil on paper
18th Century
Oval, 55mm (2 3/16 in.) high.
The artist; His widow Mary Morton; By family descent to Mabel Annie Busteed (née Bose) by whom sold; Christie’s, London, 17 December 1936, Lot 2 as ‘Portrait of Lord Dalrymple, probably John, later 5th Earl of Stair, in green coat’; Bought from above by ‘Miss Adam’ (£10); Karin Henninger-Tavcar by 1990; Private Collection, Germany.
Foskett, 1964, p.65, 78.
John Dalrymple was born in Edinburgh, the only son of John Dalrymple, 5th Earl of Stair (1720-89) and Margaret Middleton (d.1798).

Dalrymple was educated at Edinburgh University and from 1768 was styled Viscount Dalrymple. Soon after graduation, Dalrymple embarked on the Grand Tour, a social custom for wealthy young men in the eighteenth century, and on his return was given the temporary role of captain of the 87th Foot. After serving in America during the revolutionary wars, Dalrymple returned to England and was appointed ambassador to Poland, although returning in 1784 due to his health. He was then appointed Ambassador to the Court of Berlin in August 1785 and his arrival in Potsdam is mentioned a few months later, in early December.[1]

In 1787 Dalrymple returned to England and in 1789 on the death of his father, succeeded as 6th Earl of Stair. From 1790 until 1807 and then between 1820 until his death, Dalrymple sat as a representative for Scotland in the House of Lords.

The present work was probably painted in the late-1770s, not long after Dalrymple’s return from the Grand Tour and just prior to his appointment as captain of the 87th Foot, in whose uniform he might otherwise be shown.

[1]Whitehall Evening Post, London, 17 December 1785.

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