Allan Ramsay (artist)

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Allan Ramsay
Allan Ramsay, Selbstportrait.jpg
Allan Ramsay, self-portrait, c.1737–9
(National Portrait Gallery)
Born13 October 1713 (1713-10-13)
Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland
Died10 August 1784(1784-08-10) (aged 70)
Dover, Kent, England
NationalityScottish
Education London (1733–36, under Hans Huyssing, and at the St. Martin's Lane Academy); Rome (1736-9, under Francesco Solimena and Francesco Fernandi).
Known forPortraiture
MovementClassicism
Patron(s) Duncan Forbes,
Duke of Bridgewater,
George III

Allan Ramsay (13 October 1713 10 August 1784) was a prominent Scottish portrait-painter.

Scottish people ethnic inhabitants of Scotland

The Scottish people or Scots, are a nation and Celtic ethnic group native to Scotland. Historically, they emerged from an amalgamation of two Celtic-speaking peoples, the Picts and Gaels, who founded the Kingdom of Scotland in the 9th century. Later, the neighbouring Celtic-speaking Cumbrians, as well as Germanic-speaking Anglo-Saxons and Norse, were incorporated into the Scottish nation.

Painting Practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface

Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a solid surface. The medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush, but other implements, such as knives, sponges, and airbrushes, can be used. The final work is also called a painting.

Contents

Life and career

First wife Anne Bayne, painted by Ramsay AnneBayne.jpg
First wife Anne Bayne, painted by Ramsay

Allan Ramsay was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, the eldest son of Allan Ramsay, poet and author of The Gentle Shepherd . From the age of twenty he studied in London under the Swedish painter Hans Hysing, and at the St. Martin's Lane Academy; leaving in 1736 for Rome and Naples, where he worked for three years under Francesco Solimena and Imperiali (Francesco Fernandi). [2]

Edinburgh Capital city in Scotland

Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland and one of its 32 council areas. Historically part of the county of Midlothian, it is located in Lothian on the Firth of Forth's southern shore.

<i>The Gentle Shepherd</i> poem

The Gentle Shepherd is a pastoral comedy by Allan Ramsay. It was first published in 1725 and dedicated to Susanna Montgomery, Lady Eglinton, to whom Ramsay gifted the original manuscript.

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital and largest city of both England and the United Kingdom. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

On his return in 1738 to the British Isles, he first settled in Edinburgh, attracting attention by his head of Duncan Forbes of Culloden and his full-length portrait of the Duke of Argyll, later used on Royal Bank of Scotland banknotes. He later moved to London, where he was employed by the Duke of Bridgewater. His pleasant manners and varied culture, not less than his artistic skill, contributed to render him popular. [2] His only serious competitor was Thomas Hudson, with whom he shared a drapery painter, Joseph van Aken. In 1739 he married his first wife, Anne Bayne, the daughter of Alexander Bayne of Rires (c.1684–1737), and Mary Carstairs (1695?–1759). Anne died on 4 February 1743, giving birth to their 3rd child; none of their children reached adulthood. [1]

Archibald Campbell, 3rd Duke of Argyll Scottish noble

Archibald Campbell, 3rd Duke of Argyll, 1st Earl of Ilay was a Scottish nobleman, politician, lawyer, businessman, and soldier. He was known as Lord Archibald Campbell from 1703 to 1706, and as the Earl of Ilay from 1706 until 1743, when he succeeded to the dukedom. He was the dominant political leader in Scotland in his day, and was involved in many civic projects.

The Royal Bank of Scotland, commonly abbreviated as RBS, is one of the retail banking subsidiaries of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc, together with NatWest and Ulster Bank. The Royal Bank of Scotland has around 700 branches, mainly in Scotland, though there are branches in many larger towns and cities throughout England and Wales. Both the bank and its parent, The Royal Bank of Scotland Group, are completely separate from the fellow Edinburgh-based bank, the Bank of Scotland, which pre-dates The Royal Bank of Scotland by 32 years. The Royal Bank of Scotland was established in 1724 to provide a bank with strong Hanoverian and Whig ties.

Francis Egerton, 3rd Duke of Bridgewater British noble

Francis Egerton, 3rd Duke of Bridgewater, known as Lord Francis Egerton until 1748, was a British nobleman from the Egerton family. He was the youngest son of the 1st Duke. He did not marry, and the dukedom expired with him, although the earldom was inherited by a cousin, Lieutenant-General John Egerton.

One of his drawing pupils was Margaret Lindsay, eldest daughter of Sir Alexander Lindsay of Evelick and Amelia Murray (granddaughter to David Murray, 5th Viscount of Stormont and sister to the naval officer John Lindsay). He later eloped with her and on 1 March 1752 they married in the Canongate Kirk, Edinburgh; her father never forgave her for marrying an artist. Ramsay already had to maintain a daughter from his previous marriage and his two surviving sisters, but told Sir Alexander that he could provide Margaret with an annual income of £100. He said it would increase ‘as my affairs increase, and I thank God, they are in a way of increasing’ and that his only motive for the marriage was ‘my love for your Daughter, who, I am sensible, is entitled to much more than ever I shall have to bestow upon her’. [3] Three children survived from their long and happy marriage, Amelia (1755–1813), Charlotte (1758–1818?), and John (1768–1845).

David Murray, 5th Viscount of Stormont was a Scottish peer. He was the son of David Murray, 4th Viscount Stormont and Jean Carnegie, daughter of James Carnegie, 2nd Earl of Southesk and Lady Mary Kerr. His family was Jacobite in its politics, most particularly his second son James (c.1690–1770).

Ramsay and his new wife spent 1754 to 1757 together in Italy, going to Rome, Florence, Naples and Tivoli, researching, painting and drawing old masters, antiquities and archaeological sites. He earned income painting Grand Tourists' portraits. This and other trips to Italy involved more literary and antiquarian research than art. After their return, Ramsay in 1761 was appointed to succeed John Shackelton as Principal Painter in Ordinary to George III, beating Hudson to the post. [4] [5] The king commissioned so many royal portraits to be given to ambassadors and colonial governors, that Ramsay used the services of numerous assistants—of whom David Martin and Philip Reinagle are the best known. [2]

Grand Tour Journey around Europe for cultural education

The "Grand Tour" was the 17th- and 18th-century custom of a traditional trip of Europe undertaken by upper-class young European men of sufficient means and rank when they had come of age. Young women of equally sufficient means ("debutantes"), or those of either gender of a more humble origin who could find a sponsor, could also partake. The custom—which flourished from about 1660 until the advent of large-scale rail transport in the 1840s and was associated with a standard itinerary—served as an educational rite of passage. Though the Grand Tour was primarily associated with the British nobility and wealthy landed gentry, similar trips were made by wealthy young men of other Protestant Northern European nations, and, from the second half of the 18th century, by some South and North Americans. By the mid 18th century, the Grand Tour had become a regular feature of aristocratic education in Central Europe, as well, although it was restricted to the higher nobility. The tradition declined as enthusiasm for neo-classical culture waned, and with the advent of accessible rail and steamship travel—an era in which Thomas Cook made the "Cook's Tour" of early mass tourism a byword.

Italy republic in Southern Europe

Italy, officially the Italian Republic, is a European country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Italian Alps and surrounded by several islands. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean sea and traversed along its length by the Apennines, Italy has a largely temperate seasonal climate. The country covers an area of 301,340 km2 (116,350 sq mi) and shares open land borders with France, Slovenia, Austria, Switzerland and the enclaved microstates of Vatican City and San Marino. Italy has a territorial exclave in Switzerland (Campione) and a maritime exclave in the Tunisian sea (Lampedusa). With around 60 million inhabitants, Italy is the fourth-most populous member state of the European Union.

The title of Principal Painter in Ordinary to the King or Queen of England or, later, Great Britain, was awarded to a number of artists, nearly all mainly portraitists. It was different from the role of Serjeant Painter, and similar to the earlier role of "King's Painter". Other painters, for example Nicholas Hilliard had similar roles without the title, which seems to have been first used for John Riley in 1689.

He gave up painting in about 1770 to concentrate on literary pursuits. His health was shattered by an accidental dislocation of the right arm and his second wife's death in 1782. With unflinching pertinacity, he struggled until he had completed a likeness of the king upon which he was engaged at the time, and then started for his beloved Italy. He left a series of 50 royal portraits to be completed by his assistant Reinagle. For several years he lingered in the south, his constitution finally broken. He died at Dover on 10 August 1784. [2]

Ramsay was a friend of Samuel Johnson's, who said of him, 'I love Ramsay. You will not find a man in whose conversation there is more instruction, more information, and more elegance, than in Ramsay's.' [6]

Art

Portrait of George III, circa 1762 Allan Ramsay - King George III in coronation robes - Google Art Project.jpg
Portrait of George III, circa 1762

Among his most satisfactory productions are some of his earlier ones, such as the full-length of the duke of Argyll, and the numerous bust-portraits of Scottish gentlemen and their ladies which he executed before settling in London. They are full of both grace and individuality; the features show excellent draughtsmanship; and the flesh-painting is firm and sound in method, though frequently tending a little to hardness and opacity. His full-length of Lady Mary Coke is remarkable for the skill and delicacy with which the white satin drapery is managed; while the portrait of his brown-eyed second wife Margaret, in the Scottish National Gallery, is described as having a sweetness and tenderness. The portrait of his wife also shows the influence of French art, which Ramsay incorporated into his work. The large collection of his sketches in the possession of the Royal Scottish Academy and the Board of Trustees, Edinburgh also show this French elegance and soft colours. [2]

In a documentary broadcast by the BBC in February 2014, Ramsay was shown to be the artist who painted the lost portrait of Charles Edward Stuart in 1745, completed on the verge of his invasion of England. [7]

Paintings

Ramsay has paintings in the collection of a few British institutions including the National Gallery in London, Sheffield, Derby Art Gallery (attributed), Glasgow Museum and Newstead Abbey. [8]

Abolitionism and paintings of Queen Charlotte

According to Mario de Valdes y Cocom in 2009 on an edition of PBS Frontline, in several paintings of Queen Charlotte, Ramsay deliberately emphasised "mulatto features" which the queen supposedly inherited via descent from a 13th-century Moorish ancestor. [9] Valdes suggests that copies of these paintings were sent to the colonies to be used by abolitionists as a de facto support for their cause. [9]

Other historians question whether the 13th-century ancestor, referred to in various places as a 'Moor' and Berber, was black African. In any event, they contend that the connection, nine and 15 generations removed, was too distant to consider Charlotte 'black' in any cultural way, as her other ancestors were all European. [10]

Allan Ramsay in old age by Michael Foye 1776 Allan Ramsay in old age, by James Foye, SNPG.JPG
Allan Ramsay in old age by Michael Foye 1776

Writings

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References

  1. 1 2 "Anne Bayne, Mrs Allan Ramsay, d. 1743. Wife of the artist Allan Ramsay" National Galleries of Scotland accessed May 15, 2016
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Ramsay, Allan"  . Encyclopædia Britannica . 22 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 878–879.
  3. Ramsay to Lindsay, 31 March 1752, A. Smart, Allan Ramsay: Painter, essayist, and Man of the Enlightenment (1992), 96 n. 10
  4. Pech, H.T.; Peabody, S.H.; Richardson, C.F. (1900). The International Cyclopædia: A Compendium of Human Knowledge. Revised with Large Additions. The International Cyclopædia: A Compendium of Human Knowledge. Revised with Large Additions. Dodd, Mead. p. 415. Retrieved 1 May 2019. ... On his return, being introduced to the Prince of Wales, afterward George III., he rapidly rose into favor, and in 1767 was appointed principal painter to the king.
  5. James Boswell (30 April 1778). The Life of Samuel Johnson.
  6. "Lost Bonnie Prince Charlie portrait found in Scotland". BBC News. 22 February 2014. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  7. Allan Ramsay, BBC; accessed August 2011.
  8. 1 2 "The blurred racial lines of famous families – Queen Charlotte". PBS. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
  9. Stuart Jeffries, "Was this Britain's first black queen?" The Guardian, 12 March 2009
Court offices
Preceded by
John Shackelton
Principal Painter in Ordinary to the King
1761–1784
Succeeded by
Sir Joshua Reynolds