Major Scottish National Gallery exhibition pays tribute to Allan Ramsay at 300
The show will provide an insight into the portrait artist's drawing and modelling intelligence
If Allan Ramsay were alive today, he’d probably be a celebrity. Good-looking, cultured and a regular visitor to Italy, he painted more than 50 royal portraits and studied under some of the greatest artists of the Baroque period. His full-length portrait of the Duke of Argyll ended up on the Royal Bank of Scotland’s banknotes, and even when his health gave way after the dislocation of his right arm, he turned to literature to maintain his creativity.
Ramsay, who was from Edinburgh, was also an abolitionist, pulled in extra income from painting upper-class tourists, and wasn’t shy about emphasising what were described at the time as the 'mulatto’ features of Queen Charlotte – or any other member of the aristocracy – that may have been inherited from African ancestors.
Despite his frequent sojourns in Rome, Ramsay’s work was heavily influenced by French art: skillful and delicate, he could be sweet and tender – never more so than when painting his second wife. An alluring insight into his drawing and modelling intelligence, the Scottish National Gallery’s exhibition marking the 300th anniversary of his birth also coincides with a major show at the Hunterian Art Gallery in Glasgow.
Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, Sat 19 Oct–Sun 9 Feb 2014.