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  • Ramsay habitually made preparatory studies for his portraits, an unusual practice at the time, since most of his fellow portraitists preferred the more expedient method of drawing directly on the canvas. D drawing was an important element of Ramsay's training, first at the Academy of St. Luke I Edinburgh, and later in London at Hogarth's St. Martin's Lane Academy. This study is related to Ramsay's portrait of Sir William Guise of 1761. Early in his career Ramsay employed the accomplished drapery painter Joseph van Aken, who had arrived in London from Antwerp in 1720. Van Aken, or "the tailor," as he was known, was initially employed by a number of portraitists but later worked only for Ramsay and Thomas Hudson. Van Aken also made studies, and the attribution of drawings related to Ramsay's painting can sometimes be problematic, though Ramsay was clearly the superior draftsman. Drapery painters were customarily used by the generation of portrait painters preceding Ramsay's, and after Can Van Aken's death in 1749 Ramsay employed studio assistants to paint drapery and backgrounds, as did many of his contemporaries who ran busy portrait-practices. Painting drapery, particularly the elaborate "Van Dyck" fancy-dress fashionable in the eighteenth century, was a time consuming process, and sitters' clothes and accoutrements were usually retained in the studio while the portraitist concentrated on the face during sittings. Unsurprisingly, Hogarth, with whom Ramsay enjoyed a disputatious friendship, was vociferously opposed to these practices and bitterly remarked that if an artists should "persuade the public that he had brought a new discovered method of colouring" (a palpable hit at Ramsay's technique), he need only "hire one of those painted tailors fort an assistant" to be a successful portrait painter.
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  • Dimension height :: 49.5cm
  • Dimension width :: 30.5cm
  • Exhibition :: The Line of Beauty : British Drawings and Watercolors of the Eighteenth Century
  • Located in :: New Haven
  • Located in :: Not on view
  • Located in :: YCBA, 222, C 17, R- 1
  • Located in :: Yale Center for British Art
  • Object type :: drawing
  • Object type :: watercolor
  • Subject Concept :: cravats
  • Subject Concept :: figure study
  • Subject Concept :: men
  • Subject Concept :: portrait
  • Subject Concept :: ruffle
  • Subject Concept :: standing
  • Subject Concept :: studies (visual works)
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  • ...
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  • Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
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  • Study for the Portrait of William Guise
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