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Allan Ramsay
Allan Ramsay (13 October 1713 – 10 August 1784) was a Scottish portrait-painter. Allan Ramsay was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, the eldest son of Allan Ramsay, poet and author of The Gentle Shepherd. One of his drawing pupils was Margaret Lindsay, eldest daughter of Sir Alexander Lindsay of Evelick and Amelia Murray (granddaughter to David Murray, 5th Viscount of Stormont and sister to the naval officer John Lindsay). He later eloped with her and on 1 March 1752 they married in the Canongate Kirk, Edinburgh, though her father never forgave her for marrying an artist. Ramsay already had to maintain a daughter from his previous marriage as well as his two surviving sisters, but told Sir Alexander that he could provide Margaret with an annual income of £100 which would increase ‘as my affairs increase, and I thank God, they are in a way of increasing’ and that his only motive for the marriage was ‘my love for your Daughter, who, I am sensible, is entitled to much more than ever I shall have to bestow upon her’. There were three surviving children from their long and happy marriage, Amelia (1755–1813), Charlotte (1758–1818?), and John (1768–1845). Among his most satisfactory productions are some of his earlier ones, such as the full-length of the duke of Argyll, and the numerous bust-portraits of Scottish gentlemen and their ladies which he executed before settling in London. They are full of both grace and individuality; the features show excellent draughtsmanship; and the flesh-painting is firm and sound in method, though frequently tending a little to hardness and opacity. His full-length of Lady Mary Coke is remarkable for the skill and delicacy with which the white satin drapery is managed; while in the portrait of his brown-eyed second wife Margaret, in the Scottish National Gallery, we have a sweetness and tenderness which shows the painter at his highest. The portrait of his wife also shows the influence of French art, an influence which helped greatly to form the practice of Ramsay, and which is even more clearly visible in the large collection of his sketches in the possession of the Royal Scottish Academy and the Board of Trustees, Edinburgh. Indeed, all his later portraits are characterised by their French elegance and soft colours.
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