A private collector has generously loaned two large portraits to No. 1 Royal Crescent. They are of Peter and Amy Burrell, who married in 1723, by Allan Ramsay (1713–1784). With no known connection to Bath the sitters are of less significance than the artist; their arrival pays homage to the country’s premier court painter at the time of No. 1’s first occupancy.
Allan Ramsay, a Scot, was internationally renowned for his outstanding portraits. He attended an academy in Edinburgh, continuing his artistic education in Rome and Naples in Italy. British residents commissioned many portraits from him and as soon as he returned to London he established a successful studio. He also returned to Edinburgh regularly. King George III appointed him King’s painter (officially Principal Painter-in-Ordinary) in 1761, beating his rival Joshua Reynolds who spitefully remarked that Ramsay was “not a good painter” (Biographer Alistair Smart, 1952).
Ramsay portraits are variously praised for their grace, elegance, individuality, delicacy, tenderness and muted colours. His paintings are in the collections of the Scottish National Gallery, National Gallery and Tate in London, amongst others.
Lizzie Johansson-Hartley, Manager of No. 1 Royal Crescent, said:
“These two portraits are really stunning examples of Ramsay’s early work. He has such a distinctive style and it is interesting to see the similarities between these two portraits and the ‘Portrait of a young Lady’ that hangs in the dining room, also painted by Ramsay. Hanging over the staircase and visible from the Front Hall, they really add a sense of grandeur to the entrance of the house. Loaned to us by a generous private collector, these portraits enable us to tell the story of Georgian society within its wider context beyond Bath and showcase some beautiful pieces of work by one of the foremost Georgian portrait artists of the time.”