Margaret Carmichael (d.1803) was the daughter of Dr. James Smyth of Aithernie and married in 1740 Thomas Carmichael (1702-1746). There only son James, under the terms of his maternal grandfather’s will, changed his name to Carmichael Smyth. James went on to distinguish himself: he graduated with a Doctor of Medicine; became Physician Extraordinary to King George III; twice received the thanks of Parliament and a grant of £5,000 for valuable public services; was twice Censor of Royal College of Physicians; invested as a Fellow of the Royal Society; held the position of 23rd Chief of the Name and Arms of Carmichael; and claimed the dormant titles of Earl of Hyndford, Viscount Inglisberry and Nemphlar, Lord Carmichael of Carmichael, Lord Carmichael and Baronet Carmichael.
This portrait shows all the influence of certain French artists, perhaps most closely Philip Mercier who visited Scotland and settled for a time in the north of England at York. Softer decorative elements gradually asserted themselves within the context of English female portrait compositions, which had arguably become very spare and plain during the first twenty years of the 18th century. This portrait of Margaret with patterned mantle, pearls, decoration in her hair and rosey, happy complexion displays this new, popular, “Frenchified” style.