This painting was formerly at Hamilton Palace, Lanarkshire (demolished in the 1920s but once the largest non-royal residence in Britain). The painting was sold from the collection of William Douglas-Hamilton, 12th Duke of Hamilton (1845-1895) through Christie’s on 8 July 1882 (Lot 1071). It was purchased by fine art dealer Colnaghi’s, perhaps on behalf of the Office of Works (a former Government Department).
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.
Collection of William Alexander Louis Stephen Douglas-Hamilton, 12th Duke of Hamilton, 9th Duke of Brandon, 2nd Duke of Châtellerault (1845-1895) of Hamilton Palace, South Lanarkshire, Scotland; by whom sold through Christie’s, London, 'Hamilton Palace Collection' sale, on 8 July 1882 (Lot 1071); from which sale purchased by Colnaghi, London, probably on behalf of the Office of Works
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