ROBERT HUNTER (1745-1803). Portrait of Sir John Craven Carden, 1st Baronet, half-length, wearing uniform. Oil on canvas, 74 x 62cm.
This portrait of John Craven Carden is in the uniform of the Templemore Light Dragoons, a volunteer regiment raised in response to the withdrawal of regular troops required for the American War but which rapidly acquired political leverage. Carden had inherited large estates in Tipperary acquired in the Cromwellian settlement of the 17th Century. Although without parliamentary influence, Carden represented landed interests which the Castle administration were keen to control. Bribes were measured and Carden was made a baronet in 1787. He proved to be a sound man in the 1798 rebellion and by fortifying the Market House in Templemore denied the town to the rebels. He also leased the land for a barracks (now the Garda Training College) and donated the site of the Catholic Church in 1810.
(The above description is not taken directly from any source of which I am aware, and I do not understand the reference to bribes.)I saw a very similar portrait in the 7th Baronet’s flat in London, when I visited him shortly before his death in 2008. His daughter Isabel sold that portrait, but believes the one sold in 2015 was a copy. The frame is totally different, but otherwise they are similar, as will be seen from the reproduction in Carden of Templemore.
I have written a letter to the purchaser, c/o the auctioneers, but have not yet received a reply.