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Thomas Carlyle

(1795-1881), Historian and essayist; Trustee of the National Portrait Gallery

Early Victorian Portraits Catalogue Entry

Sitter associated with 84 portraits
In his 1841 book, 'On Heroes, Hero-Worship and the Heroic in Society', Carlyle claimed 'the history of the world is but the biography of great men.' He believed history was made by great individuals and advocated for the foundation of the National Portrait Gallery. Born in Scotland, Carlyle was influenced by German Romanticism and enjoyed lecturing and writing on German literature, promoting Schiller and Goethe to a British public. In 1834 he moved to London and began writing a history of the French Revolution. A respected historian, his ideas were influential at the time, however during the revolutionary decade of the 1840s he expressed controversial views that were met with widespread disapproval. In 1849 he published a racist essay called 'Occasional Discourse on the Negro Question' voicing his opposition to human rights. When he supported the repressive measures used in Jamaica to suppress the Morant Bay Rebellion, his liberal friends deserted him.

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Thomas Carlyle, by Julia Margaret Cameron - NPG P122

Thomas Carlyle

by Julia Margaret Cameron
albumen print, 1867
NPG P122

Thomas Carlyle, by Julia Margaret Cameron - NPG P123

Thomas Carlyle

by Julia Margaret Cameron
albumen print, printed in reverse, 1867
NPG P123

Thomas Carlyle, by Domenico Brucciani, after  Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm, 1st Bt - NPG 1623

Thomas Carlyle

by Domenico Brucciani, after Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm, 1st Bt
plaster cast of hands, 1875
NPG 1623

Thomas Carlyle, by Robert Scott Tait - NPG x34156

Thomas Carlyle

by Robert Scott Tait
carbon print, 31 July 1854
NPG x34156

Thomas Carlyle, by Robert Scott Tait - NPG x5641

Thomas Carlyle

by Robert Scott Tait
salt print on cream card mount, 1855
NPG x5641

Thomas Carlyle, possibly by Charles Thurston Thompson - NPG x1344

Thomas Carlyle

possibly by Charles Thurston Thompson
albumen print, circa 1859
NPG x1344

Thomas Carlyle, by Elliott & Fry - NPG Ax17815

Thomas Carlyle

by Elliott & Fry
albumen carte-de-visite, 1860s
NPG Ax17815

Thomas Carlyle, by Elliott & Fry - NPG Ax18216

Thomas Carlyle

by Elliott & Fry
albumen carte-de-visite, 1860s
NPG Ax18216

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