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    Sale 7555

    Scottish Art The Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh

    23 October 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 9

    Allan Ramsay (1713-1784)

    Self-Portrait, bust-length, in a red mantle, in a feigned oval

    Price Realised  

    Allan Ramsay (1713-1784)
    Self-Portrait, bust-length, in a red mantle, in a feigned oval
    signed and dated 'A Ramsay Pictor 1749' (lower left)
    oil on canvas
    25 x 19¾ in. (63.5 x 50.2 cm.)


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    This engaging self-portrait by Scotland's leading portrait artist of the mid-18th century was commissioned in 1749 by the antiquarian and biographer Dr. John Ward, an associate and patron of the artist, as a reprise of Ramsay's earlier self-portrait, dating from circa 1737-39, now in the National Portrait Gallery, London. It shows a confident Ramsay in his mid-twenties, at a key stage in the artist's career: either during the latter stages of his first visit to Italy (1736-38), or soon after his return to London in the summer of 1738, at the time of his marriage to Anne Bayne (d. 1743). The assured draughtsmanship and dramatically rendered drapery in this portrait are a testimony of Ramsay's training in Italy, more specifically, in Francesco Solimena's studio in the summer of 1737. Having absorbed the language of Continental Baroque, Ramsay rejected its artificial conventions in favour of unaffected naturalism, and in doing so developed a refined style of portraiture, rooted in direct observation, to rival that of his contemporaries in London, Andrea Soldi and Thomas Hudson.

    Ramsay was not a prolific self-portraitist, this is one of only four known portrait types of the artist, including: a bust-length drawing of circa 1733 (Edinburgh, National Gallery of Scotland); the present half-length type; an undated half-length painting (Private Collection) likely derived from drawings executed during his second Italian trip (1754-57); and a final drawing in red chalk heightened with white, inscribed 'drawn by himself in the Island of Ischia August 1776' (London, National Portrait Gallery) (see fig. 1).

    The present portrait is a later autograph version of the self-portrait of circa 1739, which shows the artist in brown, rather than deep red drapery. The latter was still in Ramsay's possession in 1781, when Alexander Nasymth copied it for Lord Buchan's Caledonian Temple of Fame (Edinburgh, National Gallery of Scotland). John Ward is likely to have seen it in Ramsay's studio when he sat for his own portrait in 1749 (Warwick, Warwickshire Museum; A. Smart, op. cit., 1999, p. 193, no. 531, fig. 329) (see fig. 2), and to have commissioned this autograph version. Ward was professor of rhetoric at Gresham College, his major work is undoubtedly his Lives of the professors of Gresham College, published in 1740. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in November 1723; vice-president of the Society of Antiquaries in 1753; and a trustee of the British Museum in the same year.

    Family tradition held that the present portrait was bought in Rome by John Loveday of Williamscote in the early 19th century (see Paintings & Drawings by Allan Ramsay 1713-1784, exhibition catalogue, Royal Academy, London, 1964, p. 4, no. 6), however, this cannot be substantiated and is thus discounted by Ingamells (op. cit.). It is likely to have followed the same route as the portrait of Ward, which was bequeathed to his cousin, Mrs Abigail Goodwin (d. 1788); given by her to her son-in-law, John Loveday; and then descended to Thomas Loveday. Appleby owned both the prime self-portrait of 1739 and the present picture, as well as the portrait of Ward; he sold the prime self-portrait to the National Portrait Gallery, London, in 1946, and the portrait of Ward to Warwickshire Museum in 1974.

    Special Notice

    VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium


    Provenance

    Painted for Dr. John Ward (c. 1679-1758), and presumably by inheritance to his cousin,
    Mrs Abigail Goodwin (d. 1788), by whom given to her son-in-law,
    John Loveday (d. 1789), and by descent to Dr. Thomas Loveday, by 1937.
    with Appleby, London, by 1969, and by descent to the present owner.


    Pre-Lot Text

    THE PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN


    Literature

    J. Kerslake, National Portrait Gallery: Early Georgian Portraits, London, 1977, I, p. 226, II, fig. 664.
    S. Markham, John Loveday, Wilton, 1984, p. 418.
    A. Smart, Allan Ramsay: Painter, Essayist and Man of the Enlightenment, New Haven and London, 1992, p. 66.
    A. Smart, Allan Ramsay: A Complete Catalogue of His Paintings, J. Ingamells, ed., New Haven and London, 1999, pp. 170-71, no. 429a.


    Exhibited

    Bristol, Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, Royal West of England Academy, Loan Exhibition of Art Treasures of the West Country, May-June 1937, no. 78 (lent by Dr. Thomas Loveday).
    London, Kenwood and Nottingham University, Paintings & Drawings by Allan Ramsay 1713-1784, May-September 1958, no. 1 (lent by Dr. Thomas Loveday).
    London, Royal Academy, Paintings & Drawings by Allan Ramsay 1713-1784, 1964, no. 6 (lent by Dr. Thomas Loveday).
    Bath, Assembly Rooms, International Art Treasures Exhibition, August-September 1973, no. 4 (lent by Appleby Bros. Ltd., London).