L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Allan Ramsay: portraits of his two wives

Portrait of Margaret Lindsay (detail).

Allan Ramsay (13 October 1713, Edinburgh – 10 August 1784, Dover), Scottish artist, one of the greatest of the eighteenth century British portrait painters.

Portrait of Anne Bayne, circa 1739.

The eldest son of his namesake poet father, at twenty he went to London to study, privately and at the St. Martin's Lane Academy. In 1736 he left for Rome and Naples; he remained in Italy for three years. He then returned to Edinburgh, but soon settled once again in London where he was increasingly successful as a portrait painter. In 1739 he married Anne Bayne, the daughter of a law professor, but his wife died in childbirth four years later, and none of their three children survived childhood. Nine years after his first wife's death, in 1752, he eloped with a student of his, Margaret Lindsay (circa 1726 - 1782), the eldest daughter of a Scottish baronet, Sir Alexander Lindsay of Evelick, who was scandalized at his daughter marrying an artist; he never forgave her. But the marriage was a happy one, with three children surviving to adulthood.

Portrait of Margaret Lindsay, circa 1758.

From 1754 to 1757 the couple traveled in Italy. This and other trips to Italy involved more literary and antiquarian research than art, but Ramsay also earned some income painting portraits of travelers making the Grand Tour. In 1761 (officially 1767) he was appointed Principal Painter in Ordinary to George III. The King commissioned so many portraits and copies of portraits that much of the work was done by his numerous studio assistants.

Sketch for the above portrait.

Disabled by the dislocation of his right arm in 1773, Ramsay mostly gave up painting to concentrate on literary pursuits. His second wife died in 1782, and returning home one last time from his beloved Italy, he was only able to reach Dover, where he died at the age of seventy.

Sketch of his second wife, Margaret Lindsay, circa 1776.

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