SOLD BY ORDER OF THE 12TH DUKE OF NORTHUMBERLAND AND THE TRUSTEES OF THE NORTHUMBERLAND ESTATES
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.
London, Royal Academy of Arts, Allan Ramsay, 1964, no. 41;
Edinburgh, National Portrait Gallery of Scotland, Scottish Painting 1660–1760, 1989, no. 101.
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.
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.
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