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SOLD BY ORDER OF THE 12TH DUKE OF NORTHUMBERLAND AND THE TRUSTEES OF THE NORTHUMBERLAND ESTATES

Allan Ramsay
PORTRAIT OF ARCHIBALD CAMPBELL, 3RD DUKE OF ARGYLL (1682–1761)
Estimate
200,000300,000
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SOLD BY ORDER OF THE 12TH DUKE OF NORTHUMBERLAND AND THE TRUSTEES OF THE NORTHUMBERLAND ESTATES

Allan Ramsay
PORTRAIT OF ARCHIBALD CAMPBELL, 3RD DUKE OF ARGYLL (1682–1761)
Estimate
200,000300,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Old Master & British Paintings Evening Sale

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Allan Ramsay
EDINBURGH 1713 - 1784 DOVER
PORTRAIT OF ARCHIBALD CAMPBELL, 3RD DUKE OF ARGYLL (1682–1761)
signed and dated on the ink stand, lower left.: A. Ramsay. / 1758, and later inscribed upper left, on a label attached to the recto of the canvas: ARCHIBALDUS / DUX ARGATHELLÆ, / NATUS ANNO 1682 / JUNII XXIV. / DECESSIT VITA, / Anno 1761 APRILIS XV.
oil on canvas
126.5 by 101 cm.; 49 3/4 by 39 3/4 in.
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Provenance

Acquired towards the end of the nineteenth century by Henry Percy, 7th Duke of Northumberland (1846–1918), who married, in 1868, Lady Edith Campbell, daughter of the 8th Duke of Argyll, from a farm house near Alnwick Castle, Northumberland (according to a hand-written annotation made by the Duchess to an 1872 list of pictures at Northumberland House; see Literature);

By descent to their son Alan Ian Percy, 8th Duke of Northumberland (1880–1930), who married Helen Gordon-Lennox (1886–1965), daughter of Charles Gordon-Lennox, 7th Duke of Richmond;

By descent to their second son, Hugh Algernon Percy (1914–1988), who succeeded his brother, the 9th Duke, as 10th Duke of Northumberland in 1940, after he was killed in action whilst serving with the Grenadier Guards during the retreat to Dunkirk;

By descent to his son, Henry Alan Walter Richard Percy, 11th Duke of Northumberland (1953–1995);

By inheritance to his brother, Ralph George Algernon Percy, 12th and present Duke of Northumberland (b. 1956), the current owner.

Exhibited

London, Royal Academy of Arts, Winter Exhibition, 1954, no. 417;

London, Royal Academy of Arts, Allan Ramsay, 1964, no. 41;

Edinburgh, National Portrait Gallery of Scotland, Scottish Painting 1660–1760, 1989, no. 101.

Literature

Alnwick Castle, DP/D8/II/664 - An annotation to an 1872 list of pictures at Northumberland House, in London, written in the hand of the 7th Duchess, reads: Duchess Sitting Room Portrait of Lord Islay afterwards Duke of Argyll. – Ramsay / bought from a Farm House near Alnwick. / cleaned  & Varnished by Dyer 1909  £5

Alnwick Castle, Sy.H.XII.5.e.e. List of articles formerly part of the contents of 2, Grosvenor Place, now at 17, Prince’s Gate, 1918;

C. H. Collins Baker, A Catalogue of the Pictures in the Collection of the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland, London 1930, no. 623, reproduced pl. 166 (when at Princes Gate);

J. L. Caw, 'Allan Ramsay Portrait Painter', in Walpole Society, vol. XXV, London 1937, p. 62;

A. Smart, The Life and Art of Allan Ramsay, London 1952, pp. 83 and 207;

Albury Park, guidebook by Helen, 8th Duchess of Northumberland, 1959, cat. no. 70;

A. Smart, Allan Ramsay Painter, Essayist and Man of the Enlightenment, New Haven and London 1992, pp. 37–38, 75, 154;

A. Smart, Allan Ramsay. A Complete Catalogue of his Paintings, John Ingamells (ed.), New Haven and London 1999, p. 73, no. 15, reproduced fig. 480.

Catalogue Note

Sensitively modelled and conceived with a nobility of design found only in the artist’s very best works, this is arguably one of the finest of Ramsay’s late portraits, and the most dynamic depiction of one of his greatest patrons. Ramsay relishes in the tangibility of texture, brilliantly capturing the fall of light across the modulating surface of the sitter’s judicial robes, whilst suffusing the whole in a delightfully soft chiaroscuro. There is at once an elegance as well as a force to the portrait; the sitter's steely gaze fixing upon the viewer and leaving the casual observer in no doubt of his power and high office. Apparently begun in 1757 and completed in 1758, this painting relates to two known preparatory drawings by Ramsay, both in the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh (nos. D.2041 and D.2120). The first is a chalk study for the pose (see fig. 1), whilst the second consists of two studies for the left hand, and one for the right (see fig. 2), which appear on the same sheet as a study for the artist’s full length portrait of George III, when Prince of Wales (Private Collection, Scotland). The latter portrait was commissioned by Argyll’s nephew, the Earl of Bute, another study for which is dated 12 October 1757 (National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, no. D.242), shortly after Ramsay’s return from his second trip to Italy. The lingering influence of Italy can be seen both in the painting of the sitter's sleeve, for which the artist may well have referred to the voluminous draperies in the drawing he made in 1754 from Fra Bartolommeo’s St Mark in the Palazzo Pitti, Florence (National Gallery of Scotland, no. D.3790), as well as in the pose which shows a marked resemblance to Francesco Solimena's Self Portrait of 1730 (Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence); an artist in whose studio Ramsay had worked in Naples during the summer of 1737, on his first visit to Italy (see fig. 3).

Born at Ham House, Surrey, the sitter was the second son of Archibald Campbell, 10th Earl and 1st Duke of Argyll (1658–1703) and his wife Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Sir Lionel Talmash of Helmingham, Suffolk. His father was head of the Clan Campbell, historically one of the largest and most influential Scottish clans, and in 1706 he was created Earl of Ilay. Educated at Eton and the University of Glasgow, he trained as a lawyer at Utrecht and was appointed Lord High Treasurer of Scotland by Queen Anne in 1705. Following the treaty of union he was elected as one of the sixteen Scottish peers to sit in the House of Lords in Westminster, and in 1711 he was further appointed Lord Justice-General for Scotland by Queen Anne, making him head of the county’s highest criminal court, and Keeper of the Great Seal in 1733. A strong supporter of Walpole, he dominated affairs in Scotland and was the leading Scottish politician of his day. In 1727 he was one of the principal subscribers to the new Royal Bank of Scotland, and served as the Bank's first Governor. Since 1987 the Bank has used Ramsay’s earliest portrait of Lord Ilay, painted in 1744, on all of its notes.  

Lord Ilay succeeded his elder brother John as 3rd Duke of Argyll in 1743, and their patronage of Ramsay extended over nearly two decades. From 1739 to 1758 the 3rd Earl commissioned no less than nine portraits from the artist (three of which are untraced) and his elder brother sat for a full length portrait (Duke of Argyll, Inveraray Castle) as dis his sister-in-law (whereabouts unknown). It was also through the 2nd and 3rd Dukes’ nephew, John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute, who served as Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1762–63, that Ramsay was appointed Principal Painter to George III. Argyll, when Lord Ilay, may have been responsible for sponsoring Ramsay’s first period of study in Italy.1   

Versions of this portrait include those in the collection of the Duke of Argyll, in the collection of the Duke of Buccleuch, and in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh (PG908), as well as an extended, full-length version by Ramsay, commissioned by the Earl of Bute (Private Collection, Scotland).  

1. A. Smart, Allan Ramsay. A Complete Catalogue of his Paintings, John Ingamells (ed.), New Haven and London 1999, p. 72.

Old Master & British Paintings Evening Sale

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