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Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Allan Ramsay (1713-1784), Portrait painter

With the possible exception of the bust by Foye, discussed below, Ramsay is known only from four self-portrait types. The first is a drawing acquired, 1910, by the National Gallery of Scotland (D 223) catalogued 'as a youth of about 20'. Then follows NPG 3311 of c.1739. The third portrait is an undated half length deriving perhaps from the second Italian visit, 1754-57, showing the head turned to the right and the sitter's right hand pointing to a canvas with a drawing of a woman's head, the type engraved by A. Wivell, 1820; also a version in oil exhibited 'Allan Ramsay (1713-1784) his Masters and Rivals', Scotland, 1963 (73) lent by I. M. Campbell the younger of Succouth; a gouache - unusual in Ramsay's oeuvre - Scottish NPG (27), a chalk head (L10) lent to the Scottish NPG by the trustees of Lockhart Thomson, and a related drawing acquired, 1963, by the Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery from the Bruce Ingram collection; a related three-quarter length drawing [1] inscribed on the back Nov'r 1755 with palette and brushes in the left hand is possibly a study and the reason perhaps for Smart's belief that the oil was painted in Florence in 1755. The portrait might well have been painted a few years after Ramsay's marriage to Margaret in 1752 but does not appear an obvious pendant to the well-known but undated portrait of her in the National Gallery of Scotland (430). An x-ray might reveal some change of design particularly in the area of the left forearm which seems to have been painted over the vase. The last self-portrait is NPG 1660 drawn in Ischia, 1776.
A marble head, Scottish NPG 641 incised M: Foye/Sculpt/Rome/177 (the last figure gone), at one time in the Lockhart Thomson collection, may prove to be the 'Busto of an Artist' exhibited by 'Foy' at the Society of Artists, 1777 (201). Michael Foye (fl. 1767-70), an Irish sculptor working in Rome from 1773, took a head of the Irish painter James Durno (1745-95). [2] The features are not strikingly close, but on the basis of age, appearance, the reference to Rome and former ownership, the bust probably represents our sitter.

1) National Gallery of Scotland, Drawing 2020.
2) R. Gunnis, Dictionary of British Sculptors 1660-1851, 1953, p 156.


This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Kerslake, Early Georgian Portraits, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1977, and is as published then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.