The 4th Earl of Northesk, sheriff of the county of Forfar and one of the representative peers 1708-1715, was the son of David, 3rd Earl of Northesk and Elizabeth, daughter of John, Earl of Crawford and Lindsay. He married Lady Margaret Wemyss in 1697 and had five children.
Northesk is a title in the Peerage of Scotland and was created in 1662 for John Carnegie, who notably served as Sheriff of Forfarshire. He was given the subsidiary title of Lord Rosehill and Eglismauldie (or Inglismaldie) at the same time. Carnegie had already been created Earl of Ethie and Lord Lour in 1647 but relinquished those titles in exchange for the 1662 creations. However, for the purposes of precedence and seniority, the Earldom of Northesk is treated as having been created in 1647.
This striking image of the young Earl significantly displays a debt to the style of Kneller, who as Court painter to four sovereigns, dominated English art for more than thirty years. Due to his importance many artists were influenced by the manner of his portraiture, this present painting being a good example.