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Allan Ramsay

Portrait of Martha, Countess of Elgin

Allan Ramsay
(1713-1784)

Allan Ramsay, Scottish portrait painter, was the eldest son of the poet Allan Ramsay (1685-1758). He was trained in Italy, and worked first in Edinburgh. From 1757, when he painted his first portrait of George III, then Prince of Wales, Ramsay was increasingly in demand as a royal portraitist. In 1762, he settled in London, and in 1767 was appointed portrait painter to George III.
Though this appointment provided generous and steady income, it brought Ramsay to the decline of his artistic individuality. All his best works were fulfilled before the royal appointment. His style used to be simple and delicate, he especially excelled in portraits of women. As he had a lot of commissions for royal portraits, he had to drop the rest of his practice. Also his art weakened, the painting became like a mechanical process for him, until an accident to his arm in 1773 prevented him from painting altogether.

Ramsay’s best paintings however will always be among the supreme achievements of British art.

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