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.
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