Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of a Lady 1740

Allan Ramsay (1713-84)

Portrait of a Lady, Allan Ramsay
Oil on canvas
18th Century
44 x 32 inches 111.8 x 81.2 cm
Private Collection, USA.
This portrait is significant not only in its sheer virtuosity and elegance, but in the fact that it is the work of the artist at the age of twenty seven, only two years after he had established himself as an independent practioner in Covent Garden. Like many of his English contemporaries he worked in loose association with the St Martin's Lane Academy under the tutelage of William Hogarth between 1738 and 1739, but he also had enjoyed the direct influence of Italian masters: in 1736 he studied under Francesco Imperiali, and in the following year under the great Neapolitan, Francesco Solimena.

The influence of the former's pupil, Pompeio Batoni remains discernible, particularly in Ramsay's early work.

Ramsay burst upon the London scene with immediate success. The commentator Alexander Gordon described him as early as ''one of the first rate portrait painters in London'' (1) as early as December 1738, when the young painter was already charging eight guineas a head, some three guineas more than Reynolds was to charge when he settled in London some fifteen years later. By 1740 he was to boast that he was ''the first fiddle'' in London portraiture, and if this can be disputed he still had a remarkable client-list for a newcomer, with sitters such as the Princess of Wales, Sir Robert Walpole, the Duke of Argyll and the Lord Chancellor, Philip, Earl of Hardwicke.
Philip Mould Ltd, 18-19 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5LU.Copyright Philip Mould Ltd.