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Creator:
Allan Ramsay, 1713–1784
Title:
Lady in a Pink Silk Dress [1998, This Other Eden: paintings from the Yale Center for British Art, exhibition catalogue]
Former Title(s):

An Unknown Woman in a Pink Dress [1986, Acquisitions: The First Decade 1977-1986, exhibition catalogue]

Portrait of a woman
Date:
ca. 1762
Materials & Techniques:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
30 × 25 3/16 inches (76.2 × 64 cm), Frame: 37 1/2 × 32 3/4 inches (95.3 × 83.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
B1981.25.761
Classification:
Paintings
Collection:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
costume | earrings | engageantes | flounces | flowers (plants) | hairpiece | jewels | neckwear | noble (aristocrat) | pink | portrait | sadness | shawls | woman
Access:
Not on view
Link:
https://collections.britishart.yale.edu/catalog/tms:5048
Export:
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IIIF Manifest:
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According to Horace Walpole, “Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Ramsay can scarce be rivals; their manners are so different. The former is bold and has a kind of tempestuous colouring . . . the latter is all delicacy. Mr. Reynolds seldom succeeds in women; Mr. Ramsay is formed to paint them.” The wistfulness of this unidentified young woman’s expression, the informality of her pose, and the delicacy of Ramsay’s treatment of the lace, hair, flowers, and pale skin, all support Walpole’s assessment. Ramsay and Reynolds were indeed rivals, although the sharp contrast between each artist’s distinctive approach to his intimate, half-length female subject is less apparent today than it was two hundred years ago.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2016



According to Horace Walpole, “Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Ramsay can scarce be rival, their manners are so different. The former is bold and has a kind of tempestuous colouring…the latter is all delicacy. Mr. Reynolds seldom succeeds in women, Mr. Ramsay is formed to paint them.” The wistfulness of this unidentified young woman’s expression, the informality of her pose, and the delicacy of Ramsay’s treatment of the lace, hair, flowers, and pale skin—all support Walpole’s assessment. But naturally, Ramsay and Reynolds were rivals, although the sharp contrast between each artist’s idiosyncratic approach to his intimate, half-length female subject is less apparent today than it was 200 years ago.

Gallery label for Paul Mellon's Legacy: A Passion for British Art (Yale Center for British Art, 2007-04-18 - 2007-07-29)



According to Horace Walpole, "Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Ramsay can scarce be rival, their manners are so different. The former is bold and has a kind of tempestuous colouring…the latter is all delicacy. Mr. Reynolds seldom succeeds in women, Mr. Ramsay is formed to paint them." The wistfulness of this unidentified young woman's expression, the informality of her pose, and the delicacy of Ramsay's treatment of the lace, hair, flowers, and pale skin-all support Walpole's assessment. But naturally, Ramsay and Reynolds were rivals, although the sharp contrast between each artist's idiosyncratic approach to his intimate, half-length female subject is less apparent today than it was 200 years ago.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2005
Mr Reynolds and Mr Ramsay can scarce be rival, their manners are so different. The former is bold and has a kind of tempestuous colouring…the latter is all delicacy. Mr Reynolds seldom succeeds in women, Mr Ramsay is formed to paint them. Horace Walpole, 17591 Allan Ramsay's portrait of a young woman leaning pensively on a parapet and looking wistfully out at the viewer is one of his most striking. Combining a delicacy of costume and pose with a realistic treatment of the sitter's features, Ramsay imparts to her an arrestingly bold yet quiet beauty. In capturing the very idiosyncrasies of the young woman's face, he conveys the immediacy of her quiet charm-her square jaw, her cleft chin, and especially her thin lips, the upper of which droops down at its center as if to indicate a slight overbite. Her large eyes openly entice and beguile; they are, as a Frenchman once said of English women's eyes, "not so sparkling as melting."2 Ramsay's exploitation of the evocative powers of his sitters' facial particularities is at the heart of his immense success as a portraitist. Like his close friend and colleague William Hogarth, he sought to use the individual physiognomies of his subjects to evince character. Unlike that of Hogarth, however, his realism was heavily tempered by his affinities for the soft, delicate lines, surfaces and tones of the French Rococo. Artists like François Boucher, in his portraits of Madame de Pompadour, or Jean-Marc Nattier, in his of Louis XV's daughters, used the delicate, fine and luxurious fabrics and textures of their sitters' clothing and hair adornments to evoke the sensuality of the women they were painting. Similarly, Ramsay revels in the transformation of paint into lace, silk, and flowers; every precious detail of the young woman's clothing reflects her beauty. Not only showing his French sensibilities, this portrait also hints at the artist's growing awareness of and impending rivalry with Joshua Reynolds, who in 1759 had used this same pose in his portrait of Miss Kitty Fisher (National Trust, Petworth). Despite its references to other contemporary works, this image remains intensely personal. Some have suggested that the sitter is the painter's daughter Amelia, who was born in 1755; if so, the painting would presumably date from about 1772. The young woman's dress and hairstyle are very much in accordance with the fashions of the early 1760s, however, and the portrait closely resembles in style and format other of Ramsay's female portraits of that earlier date.

Julia Marciari-Alexander, This other Eden, paintings from the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1998, p. 94, no. 33, ND1314.3 Y36 1998 (YCBA)

In a New Light: Paintings from the Yale Center for British Art (Yale University Art Gallery, 2023-03-24 - 2023-12-03) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

This Other Eden : British Paintings from the Paul Mellon Collection at Yale (Art Gallery of South Australia, 1998-09-16 - 1998-11-15) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

This Other Eden : British Paintings from the Paul Mellon Collection at Yale (Queensland Art Gallery, 1998-07-15 - 1998-09-06) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

This Other Eden : British Paintings from the Paul Mellon Collection at Yale (Art Gallery of New South Wales, 1998-05-01 - 1998-07-05) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

Allan Ramsay 1713-1784 (National Portrait Gallery, 1992-10-16 - 1993-01-16) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Allan Ramsay 1713-1784 (Scottish National Portrait Gallery, 1992-08-01 - 1992-09-27) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Acquisitions : The First Decade 1977-1986, Yale Center for British Art , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1986, pp. 4, 17, no. 44, color plate 4, N590.2 A7 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Malcolm Cormack, Concise Catalogue of Paintings in the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1985, pp. 182-183, N590.2 A83 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Julia Marciari-Alexander, This other Eden : Paintings from the Yale Center for British Art, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1998, pp. 94-95, no. 33, ND1314.3 Y36 1998 (YCBA) [YCBA]

John McDonald, A Feast of Mellon, Sydney Morning Herald, May 9, 1998, p. 14, Film An Sy25 (SML) Also Available Online (Factiva database) [ORBIS]

Paul Mellon's Legacy : a passion for British art [large print labels], , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, v. 3, N5220 M552 P381 2007 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Duncan Robinson, Acquisitions : The First Decade 1977 - 1986, , Burlington Magazine, vol. 128, October 1986, pp. 4, 17, no. 44, color pl. . 4, N1 B87 128:3 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Alastair Smart, Allan Ramsay, 1713-1784, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, UK, 1992, p. 152, no. 106, NJ18 R1884 S53 1992+ (YCBA) [YCBA]

Alastair Smart, Allan Ramsay, a complete catalogue of his paintings , The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, New Haven, CT, 1999, pp. 200, 378, no. 570, fig. 611, NJ18 R1884 A12 S52 1999 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Alastair Smart, Allan Ramsay, painter, essayist, and man of the Enlightenment , The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, New Haven, CT, 1992, pp. 237, 241, pl. 203, NJ18 R1884 S62 1992 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Sotheby's sale catalogue : Catalogue of fine seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth century English paintings : 22 March 1972, Sotheby's, London, March 22, 1972, p. 27, Lot 102, Auction Catalogues (YCBA)


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