King George III (1738-1820) Reigned 1760-1820
About the work
George III appointed Allan Ramsay as his Principal Painter in 1761, commissioning him to paint his state portrait in coronation robes and subsequently that of his new queen, Charlotte of Mecklenburg–Strelitz. He married her in London in September 1761, a couple of weeks before their coronation. As a result of this appointment, Ramsay virtually gave up private commissions in order to turn out numerous copies of the royal portraits with the help of his studio.This painting is an early studio copy of the original in the Royal Collection. Such studio copies were exhibited in many state buildings, including British embassies in the eighteenth century. Ramsay was highly successful in representing the king with majesty and elegance. He achieved this by the dramatic and lavish way in which he painted the sitters opulent robes, the theatrical backdrop of classical columns, together with the heavy curtains swept back by cords and tassels. He also used highly contrasting light effects; light to accentuate some elements, such as the lustre of gold and jewels, and shadow to soften and refine his features and physique.
About the artist
Allan Ramsay was born in Edinburgh. After two years of study in Italy, he settled in London in 1738. From the 1740s until the emergence of Reynolds as a rival in the mid-1750s, he maintained a reputation as Britain’s leading portraitist. He was also one of the wealthiest painters, amassing a fortune of about £40,000. In May 1757, a few months after his return to England from a three-year stay in Italy, Ramsay received a commission from John, Third Earl of Bute, to paint the young Prince of Wales (the future George III). It was the success of this portrait which led George III to appoint Ramsay as his Principal Painter. Ramsay’s love of Italy did not diminish with age. He died at Dover in August 1784, returning from his last Italian journey.
Allan, (after) Ramsay
- King George III (1738-1820) Reigned 1760-1820
- Oil on canvas
- height: 234.00 cm, width: 160.00 cm
- Presented by Lord Duveen, July 1937
- Collection of Lady Esmonde; by whom sold through Christie's, London, 'Old Pictures, the Property of Lady Esmonde...' sale, 29 July 1937 (Lot 9; with GAC 0/65); from which sale purchased by Sir Alec Martin (1884-1971; Chairman of Christie’s, London, 1940-58; Chairman of the Wallace Collection, London; Governor of the Foundling Hospital, London), presumably on behalf of art dealer and benefactor Joseph Joel Duveen, Baron Duveen (1869-1939); by whom presented to the Office of Works in July 1937
- GAC number