John Carlyle was an emigrant and merchant who settled in Alexandria. He sent his portrait by John Hesselius to his brother, Dr. George Carlyle, who was living in the English town of Carlisle in Cumbria. Correspondence between the brothers documents the exchange of their portraits, as well as the portraits of their parents, William and Rachel Carlyle. The original portrait descended in his brother’s family. The image used here is from a reproduction owned by Carlyle House in Alexandria, Virginia, which maintains John Carlyle’s home as a historic site.
“I was Afraid as Mr Gibsons Vessel meet with an Accident the Picture might also, but as it has got to hand & the painter Approved off I am Satisfyed, as to the Likeness I enver thought it very like when it was first finished I believe you would have liked it better, but I thought he had flatterd me & made him make it Seven Years Older at least, Eveersince I had that long Ilness In 1755 I have never Recoverd what you Remember Of the Spiritliness at the Eyes &c You cannot have more pleasure in Yt Picture then I have in mine & hope you’l Live long & Continue to have yr health & Look Like what yr picture now does.” – John Caryle to George Carlyle, 1 August 1766
The portrait represents a man wearing a dark blue jacket with gold buttons and a red waistcoat trimmed with gold. A gold-trimmed hat is tucked under his left arm. His left hand is in his waistcoat. He is within a painted oval frame.
See: J.F. Carlyle, ed., “The Personal and Family Correspondence of Col. John Carlyle” (2011); Encyclopedia Virginia