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