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 Allan Ramsay

Allan Ramsay

Birth
Edinburgh, City of Edinburgh, Scotland
Death 10 Aug 1784 (aged 70)
Dover, Dover District, Kent, England
Burial East Finchley, London Borough of Barnet, Greater London, England
Memorial ID 12480 · View Source
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Painter. He was the eldest son of the famous Edinburgh poet Allan Ramsay and started to draw portraits from the age of twelve. In 1729 entered the recently established Academy of St Luke in Edinburgh, before moving to London where he studied under the Swedish painter Hans Hysing. In 1736 he visited Italy; first to Rome where he studied under the artist, Francesco Imperiali and then to Naples where he worked with Francesco Solimena. Upon his return in 1738 he first went to Edinburgh but eventually settled in London where he was said to be, with his elegant and sophisticated style, one of the best British portrait painters. His full-length portrait of the Duke of Argyll was later used on Royal Bank of Scotland banknotes. In 1739 he married his first wife, Anne Bayne, but she died on 4 February 1743, while giving birth to their 3rd child; none of their children reached adulthood. In 1752 he eloped with Margaret Lindsay, one of his drawing pupils, and they married on the 1 March in Edinburgh. After working in Edinburgh in 1753 and 1754, Ramsay and his wife travelled to Italy going to Rome, Florence, Naples and Tivoli, researching, painting and drawing old masters, antiquities and archaeological sites. He earned income by painting the portraits of those on the Grand Tour. After three years he returned home visiting Venice, Dusseldorf and Rotterdam on the way. He moved to London where he purchased a home in Soho Square. His portraits at this time included his new patron, John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute and the Prince of Wales (later George III). His pictures of women in particular have a decidedly French grace and ‘The Artist's Wife’ c.1758 can be seen in the National Gallery of Scotland. In 1767 he was appointed as Principal Painter to the king, upsetting his main rivals, Sir Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough. The king commissioned so many royal portraits, to be given to ambassadors and colonial governors, that he used the services of numerous assistants—of whom David Martin and Philip Reinagle are the best known. Unusually among British portraitists of his time, he was an outstanding draughtsman and he made many beautiful preliminary chalk drawings for his paintings—of hands and details of costume as well as heads. There is also a large collection of these in the National Gallery of Scotland. An accident in 1773, where he badly hurt his right arm when falling from a ladder, forced him to retire from painting. His health was shattered by the accident and the subsequent death of his wife in 1782 so he returned to Italy. During his return journey home in 1784 he died in Dover.

Bio by: Peter Cox


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 13 Sep 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 12480
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Allan Ramsay (2 Oct 1713–10 Aug 1784), Find A Grave Memorial no. 12480, citing East Finchley Cemetery and Crematorium, East Finchley, London Borough of Barnet, Greater London, England ; Maintained by Find A Grave .