Allan Ramsay

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Ramsay, Allan (1713–84). Portrait painter, born in Edinburgh, son of the poet Allan Ramsay. He studied in Edinburgh, London, Rome, and Naples, settling in London in 1739 and quickly establishing himself as the leading portraitist of the capital. He was particularly successful in painting women. ‘Mr. Ramsay is formed to paint them,’ said Horace Walpole, and Ramsay was a serious rival to Reynolds. He became a favourite painter of the royal family and was appointed principal painter in ordinary to George III in 1767. His employment at court and his career as a portrait painter ended in 1773 when he suffered an accident to his right arm. The rest of his life was spent in travel, writing, and conversation. His friends included David Hume, for whom he painted Rousseau, Adam Smith, and Samuel Johnson, who said of him, ‘You will not find a man in whose conversation there is more instruction, more information, and more elegance, than in Ramsay's.’

June Cochrane

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Ramsay, Allan (1713–84) Scottish portrait painter. The Scottish counterpart of Thomas Gainsborough and Joshua Reynolds, Ramsay settled in London where, in 1760, he was appointed painter to George III in preference to his rival, Reynolds. His style, graceful and Italianate, lent itself especially well to female portraiture, such as The Artist's Wife (1755).

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