1713 - 1784
Portrait of a Lady in a Green Dress
Oil on Canvas, signed and dated 1747
Image size: 29¼ x 24¼ inches
Period gilt frame
Painter to King George III and widely recognised as one of the most talented portraitists of his generation, Allan Ramsay was born in Edinburgh in 1713. His father, also named Allan Ramsay, was a poet and playwright, best known as the author of The Gentle Shepherd (1725). Like many of the most prestigious portraitists of his age, the young Ramsay studied at the St. Martin’s Lane Academy in London, as well as training in the studio of Swedish painter Hans Hysing.
In 1736, Ramsay travelled to Italy for the first time, working at the French Academy in Rome under the instruction of Francesco Imperiali before moving to Naples, where he worked in the studio of Francesco Solimena.
Invigorated by his experience under the Italian-baroque masters on the continent, Ramsay returned to Britain in 1738 and set up his own portrait practice in Covent Garden. His work swiftly gained in popularity and he soon attained an impressive list of clients, including the Duke of Bridgewater, Sir Robert Walpole, the Lord Chancellor Philip Yorke, Earl of Hardwicke and Dr. Richard Mead. As well as expanding his list of clients in London, Ramsay also retained his contacts in his native Edinburgh, where he continued to maintain a studio. His work proved particularly popular amongst the Scottish nobility and he received a number of important commissions from figures such as the Duke of Argyll and the Duke of Buccleuch.
This beautiful portrait of a lady in a green dress was painted in 1747, the year which Smart cites as marking a watershed in Ramsay’s artistic development (see Smart, ‘The Art of Allan Ramsay’ in Smart, A. and Marshall, R. (ed.), Allan Ramsay 1713-1785, Edinburgh, (1992 p.20). Created in the same year that Ramsay presented his magnificent full-length portrait of Dr. Richard Mead to the Foundling Hospital in London, this work was most likely painted in London or in Edinburgh, where the artist was situated between the summer of 1747 and January 1748.
The portrait has a luminous quality and displays the natural sensitivity which Ramsay brings to much of his work, particularly in his portrayal of female sitters, a quality noted by Horace Walpole who praised Ramsay for his delicacy and expressed the opinion that he was superior to Reynolds as a painter of women (for quotation, see Smart, A. ‘The Art of Allan Ramsay’ in Smart, A. and Marshall, R. (ed.), Allan Ramsay 1713-1785, Edinburgh, (1992) p.11).
Ramsay visited Italy for a second time from 1754 to 1757, and it was on his return to London in 1757 that he received his first commission from Lord Bute, tutor to the Prince of Wales, to paint the heir to the throne. In 1761, Ramsay was chosen to paint the Prince, now George III, and his wife Queen Charlotte in full state coronation robes. The works were a great success and Ramsay was appointed Principal Painter in Ordinary to the King in March 1767 and subsequently spent much of his time producing copies of his coronation portraits and other works for the royal family. Ramsay’s career in painting was halted by an injury to his arm, which he sustained from a fall from a ladder in 1773. A close friend of Dr. Johnson and David Hume, and correspondent of the likes of Voltaire and Rousseau, Ramsay spent his latter years following his intellectual and literary pursuits until his death in 1784.
- Campbell, M. Allan Ramsay: Portraits of the Enlightenment, London, (2013).
- Smart, A. Allan Ramsay: A Complete Catalogue of his Paintings, London, (1999).
- Smart, A. Allan Ramsay: Painter, Essayist and man of the Enlightenment, London, (1992).
- Smart, A. and Marshall, R. (ed.), Allan Ramsay 1713-1785, Edinburgh, (1992).
Portrait of a Lady in a Fur Collar
Inscribed and dated 1932
Oil on canvas
Image size: 15½ x 12 inches
1763 – 1835
Portrait of Lady Romilly
Watercolour and pencil
Image size: 9 ¼ x 6 ¾ inches
Pope was involved in the theatrical world in Cork and eventually became a professional actor. He was very successful, for years performing the principal tragic parts at the Covent Garden, Drury Lane and Haymarket theatres in London. He also appeared frequently in Dublin. During his stage career he continued to paint portraits.In 1785 Pope contributed a portrait of ‘Mrs Siddons’ to the Royal Academy, and was a frequent exhibitor until 1821, submitting miniature, pencil and occasionally oil portraits. Many of his portraits, including several of prominent members of the acting profession, were engraved. Two portraits of Pope, one as ‘Henry VIII’ by Sharpe and another as ‘Hamlet’ by Gainsborough Dupont, are in the Garrick Club.
Sir Herbert James Gunn R.A.
1893 - 1964
Portrait of Angela Blundell
Oil on canvas
Image size: 18 x 14 inches
Contemporary Style Frame
The Fine Art Society
Angela worked for Gunn, she was his secretary, saw sitters in and out, organised everything and must have sat for him too on an idle day.
We are gratefull to Chloe Gunn for this information.
Herbert James Gunn was born in Glasgow, 30th June 1893. He studied at the renowned Glasgow School of Art of René Mackintosh fame and subsequently at the Edinburgh College of Art. However, though a Scot by birth and artistic training, Gunn was to develop a style very much his own, an ‘international’ modern style imbued with influences from French Impressionism, modern British painting and his Scottish heritage.
Following his studies at Edinburgh Gunn travelled to Paris enrolling at the Académie Julian under Jean-Paul Laurens.
On his return to England, Gunn rapidly established himself as a leading painter of portraits in addition to landscapes and conversation pieces. Gunn exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1923, at the Royal Scottish Academy and in Paris, where in 1931 he was awarded a silver medal at the Société Artistes Français and a gold medal at the Paris salon of 1939.
Throughout the 1930’s and 40’s Gunn’s reputation as a portrait painter increased, he was to become the portrait painter of choice to Society and the Establishment, in 1953-54 Gunn reached his apogee as a portrait painter with the commission to paint the state portrait of H.M. The Queen.
Gunn was elected to the Royal Society of Portrait Painters in 1945 and President in 1953, the same year being elected ARA and a Royal Academician in 1961, Gunn was also a member of the National Society of Painters, Sculptors and Engravers.
A highly successful artist, Gunn was knighted in 1962 for his services to the arts; he died at his home in Hampstead, London on 30th December 1964.
The Royal Collection
The National Portrait Gallery
The National Gallery, London
The National Galleries, Scotland.
Late 18th Century
Portrait of a Lady
Pastel on paper, mounted on canvas
Image size: 28 x 23 inches
Contemporary style frame
Ernst Museum Auction
This pastel portrait of a lady dates from the late eighteenth century. She is pictured in a white muslin dress in the style made fashionable by Marie Antoinette, after she was painted wearing one in 1783. This could have been quite a daring choice for our subject as at the time Marie Antoinette was much criticised for allowing herself to be seen in attire that was deemed to be too similar to undergarments - indeed the style was called 'la chemise de la reine'.
It is certainly very different from the ornate rococo styles that had previously dominated. The mop cap worn by our subject suggests that she was a married woman, and obviously of some wealth judging by the intricate lace work and silk ribbons adorning her otherwise relatively simple dress.
There is an intriguing label attached to the back of this portrait - 'Ernst Museum Auction'. This suggests that it was once the property of Lajos Ernst, who was a noted Hungarian art critic and collector. During his life Ernst collected 6,500 articles from Hungarian history and art and founded a museum in 1912 to house his collection (the Ernst Museum in Budapest, which still exists today). An auction was held there twice a year between 1917 and 1937.
1707 - 1792
Portrait of a Gentleman in a Blue Coat
Image size: 23 x 18 ⅛ inches
Contemporary gilt frame
Hoare was born at Eye, Suffolk, 1707. He was the son of a prosperous farmer and brother to the sculptor Prince Hoare (d.1769). Hoare was a pupil of Guiseppe Grisoni (1699–1769) with whom he went to Italy in 1728. He stayed for nine years, studying under Imperiali and supporting himself comfortably by copying famous masterpieces.
Hoare then settled in Bath 1739 and was its most fashionable portraitist in oil and crayons until the arrival of Gainsborough in 1759, although he remained in demand until giving up painting in about 1779.
Hoare died in Bath on the 9th December 1792, in prosperous circumstances. His son Prince Hoare (1755–1835), also a painter, studied under him and under Mengs in Rome, but gave up painting for writing after 1785.
Frans van der Mijn
1719 - 1783
Portrait of a Lady
Oil on board
Image size: 6¾ x 6¼ inches
Period gilt frame
Van der Mijn came from a family of Dutch artists and his father, Herman van der Mijn (ca. 1684-1741), arrived in London around 1721 from Antwerp. After a childhood in London, Frans worked in Amsterdam and The Hague in the seventeen forties and fifties, returning to London to exhibit annually at the Society of Artists between 1761 and 1772.
This charming portrait resembles a grisaille oil now at the Rijksmuseum dated 1756. In keeping with much British portraiture of the period, an underlying naturalism (in this case Dutch), is enhanced by stylistic touches and exotic elements that hint at allegory and demonstrate admiration for French art—a combination that predominated in 18th century London until the Royal Academy was founded in 1768, and interest in Italian sources renewed.
Mid 16th Century
Portrait of Captain John Hyfield
Oil on oak panel
Image size: 16 ½ x 11 inches
Sotheby’s, 2nd February 2001, lot 151.
This fine and rare three-quarter-length portrait is reputed to depict Captain John Hyfield (or
Highfield). The top left hand side of the portrait contains the sitter’s coat of arms, which is made up of a
red chevron between three acorns. The top right hand side of the portrait contains a Latin inscription
which gives us the sitter’s family motto ‘SPE DUCOR’ (which can be translated as ‘I am lead by hope’)
as well as his age, ‘AETATIS SUAE 42’ and the date, ‘A.D. 1568’. Inscriptions such as this are
common in early English portraiture and serve to highlight the commemorative function of the portrait
to capture a sitter’s likeness at a certain point in their life.
The painting displays the charming naïve qualities characteristic of much Elizabethan portraiture and
the fact that the various elements of the body are not in proper anatomical proportion only adds to the
work’s character. As was often the practice in portraits up until the 18th century, the work was painted
by two artists, one, who painted the sitter’s face and another, who was employed to paint the costume.
The depiction of the gentleman’s face is extremely delicate and well rendered and is similar to the work
of miniaturists of this period, capturing the sitter’s features in minute detail. The costumist has taken
much trouble in faithfully replicating the complex forms of the individual elements of armour and
creating a convincing sense of perspective with his depiction of the rapier hilt, a challenging element for
The sitter’s attire was chosen to display his heroism and martial prowess but also his wealth and power.
He cuts an authoritative figure, holding a staff of office aloft in his right hand, his left hand confidently
planted on the helmet at his side. The use of firearms in war became more widespread during the latter
part of the 16th century and by the 1560’s full plate armour, particularly ornate sets such as this, was
produced mainly for use in tournaments rather than the battlefield. Chivalry was a prominent feature
of the Elizabethan court and tournaments, organized by one of the queen’s favourites, Sir Henry Lee,
were major events of court life during her reign. These events gave her male courtiers the opportunity
to indulge their sense of display and masculine exuberance. We can see that the sitter in this portrait is
dressed for a tournament as he wears a lance rest midway up the right hand side of his breastplate. The
armour is richly decorated with strips of gilded patterns and would have been an extremely expensive
status symbol. It appears to be in the Italian style and was possibly made at the armoury at Greenwich,
which was founded by Henry VIII and produced armour of the finest quality for the Tudor nobility, (a
comparable example of Greenwich armour, probably made for Roger Baron North, is held at the
Royal Armoury). The bulging lobster-like articulated tassets echo the 16th century fashion for padded
hose and are especially typical of armour of this style and date (c.1550-1560), as are the pointed
besagews, which cover the wearer’s armpits and protect the joint between the cuirass, (or breastplate),
and the plates that cover the arms.
- Cooper, T. A Guide to Tudor and Jacobean Portraits, London, (2008).
- Reynolds, A. In Fine Style: The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion, London, (2013)
English School, (circa 1600)
Portrait of a Melancholic Gentleman
Oil on panel, oval
Image size: 29¼ x 23⅞ inches
Painted wooden frame
Collection of Francis Greville, 1st Earl of Warwick.
The Trustees of the Lord Brooks’ Settlement, (removed from Warwick Castle).
Sotheby’s, London, 22nd March 1968, lot 81.
This intriguing and mysterious example of Elizabethan portraiture dates from around 1600 and
presents a deeply romantic image of a wealthy young gentleman. The sitter has been depicted in
expensive clothing, which reflects his wealth and indicates that he is of a noble status. His linen shirt is
edged with a delicate border of lace and his black cloak is lined on the inside with sumptuous scarlet
and richly decorated on the outside with gold braid and a pattern of embroidered black spots.
Despite the richness of his clothes, the sitter has been presented in a dishevelled state of semi-undress,
his shirt unlaced far down his chest with the ties lying limply over his hand, indicating that he is in a
state of distracted detachment. It has been suggested that the fashion for melancholy was rooted in an
increase in self-consciousness and introspective reflection during the late 16th and early 17th centuries.
In contemporary literature melancholy was said to be caused by a plenitude of the melancholy humor,
one of the four vital humors, which were thought to regulate the functions of the body. An abundance
of the melancholia humor was associated with a heightened creativity and intellectual ability and hence
melancholy was linked to the notion of genius, as reflected in the work of the Oxford scholar Robert
Burton, who in his work ‘The Anatomy of Melancholy’, described the Malcontent as ‘of all others
[the]… most witty, [who] causeth many times divine ravishment, and a kind of enthusiamus… which
stirreth them up to be excellent Philosophers, Poets and Prophets.’ (R. Burton, The Anatomy of
Melancholy, London, 1621 in R. Strong, ‘Elizabethan Malady: Melancholy in Elizabethan and Jacobean
Portraits’, Apollo, LXXIX, 1964). Melancholy was viewed as a highly fashionable affliction under
Elizabeth I, and her successor James I, and a dejected demeanour was adopted by wealthy young men,
often presenting themselves as scholars or despondent lovers, as reflected in the portraiture and
literature from this period. Although the sitter in this portrait is, as yet, unidentified, it seems probable
that he was a nobleman with literary or artistic ambitions, following in the same vain as such famous
figures as the aristocratic poet and dramatist, Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford (1550-1604).
The work can also be compared with the portrait of the poet John Donne (c.1595), a rare example of a
portrait of a known literary figure from the period, which currently hangs in the National Portrait
Gallery. As discussed by Tarnya Cooper, this portrait and Donne’s are of a very similar format, both
depicting their young sitters in a similar state of melancholic distraction, with their black cloaks
wrapped around their shoulders. The similarities between this portrait and that of Donne perhaps
indicate the existence of a small sub-genre of portraits depicting aspiring literary figures (see Cooper’s
discussion of the work in Cooper, T. Citizen Portrait: Portrait Painting and the Urban Elite of Tudor and
Jacobean England and Wales, London, (2012), p.190). Both paintings contain an unusual wispy vertical
white/grey brushstroke, emanating from the sitters’ chests. Elizabethan portraits often contain secret
signs and symbols, which told stories about their sitters, and it has been suggested that this mark could
represent the vapour of melancholy (see Cooper’s discussion of this feature of Donne’s portrait in
Cooper, T. and Eade, J. Elizabeth I & Her People, London, (2014), p.181).
We are grateful to Adam Busiakiewicz for his assistance researching this work.
- Cooper, T. Citizen Portrait: Portrait Painting and the Urban Elite of Tudor and Jacobean England and Wales,
- Cooper, T. and Eade, J. (ed.) Elizabeth I & Her People, London, (2014).
- Reynolds, A. In Fine Style: The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion, London, (2013).
- Strong, R. ‘Elizabethan Malady: Melancholy in Elizabethan and Jacobean Portraits’, Apollo, LXXIX,
Portrait of Lady Orford
Pencil, stump and watercolour, heightened with white chalk, signed and dated 1784
Image size: 8 ⅛ x 6 ½ inches
Original gilt frame
Academy for the first time in 1770 before setting off in 1773 for a two-year tour of Italy in the company of the famous portraitist Joseph Wright of Derby.
This attractive half-length portrait of a lady is typical of the artist’s work. The sitter is seated almost in profile in front of a blue curtain, dressed in a ruffle-fronted white dress and headdress. Downman believed that contemporary fashion should be recorded and preserved in portraiture. Unlike many earlier portraitists, he did not depict his sitters in standard or studio costumes, instead the sitters wore their own clothes and thus the portrait served as a form of snapshot of a particular fashion and period within the sitter’s life (see Lloyd, S. and Sloan, K. (ed.), The Intimate Portrait: Drawings Miniatures and Pastels from Ramsay to Lawrence, London, (2008), p.229).
Downman was elected an associate Royal Academician in 1795 and continued to exhibit at the Royal Academy until 1819. In his later life he moved to Wrexham in Devon where he died in 1824. A large number of his works are kept in the British Museum and Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, where an exhibition of his work was held in 1996.
- Lloyd, S. and Sloan, K. (ed.), The Intimate Portrait: Drawings Miniatures and Pastels from Ramsay to Lawrence, London, (2008).
Late 18th Century
Portrait of a Gentleman in Levantine Dress
Oil on canvas
Image size: 19¾ x 16½ inches
Carved gilt frame
1899 - 1968
Graphite on paper, signed lower right
Image size: 15 x 9 inches
Frank Jameson was born in London and later moved to Birmingham where he attended evening classes in drawing and painting at Birmingham Art School. By day he worked as an insurance salesman. During the First World War he became an officer in the Worcester Regiment and was in charge of building bridges and block houses. He returned to the Midlands but then travelled widely by rail, eventually discovering St Ives where he was inspired by the stunning scenery. He stayed and rented the Loft Studio. He also became a member of the St Ives Society of Artists and exhibited frequently with his fellow artists, especially John Park, Arthur Hayward and Dorothea Sharp.
Jameson was a frequent exhibitor at the Royal West of England Academy in Bristol and also exhibited at the Royal Academy, Royal Institute of Oil Painters and the Paris Salon. Whilst staying in Falmouth he was introduced to his future wife Joyce by the artist Thomas Holgate. They married at Penzance Registry office shortly before the Second World War. The couple travelled to Bournemouth and then Dublin where their daughter, Daphine, was born. The family moved to Falmouth in the late 1940s and Jameson set up a studio at 42 High Street. He lived in the town for the rest of his life but also continued his association with St Ives where he exhibited regularly.
There is a permanent exhibition of Jameson's works at Falmouth Art Gallery in Cornwall. Amongst the collection there is another self portrait - an oil that was painted at a later stage in the artist's life.