Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hugh Ramsay

Found a nice cache of Hugh Ramsay (Australian, 1877-1906) paintings online. I've always been drawn to his nudes and portraits. Amazing work for one who died so young.

Ramsay was born in Glasgow, Scotland, son of John Ramsay. He moved with his family to Melbourne in 1878. He was educated at Essendon Grammar School, and joined classes at the National Gallery of Victoria at age 16 under Lindsay Bernard Hall and became one of the most brilliant students ever trained there. He won several first prizes, and at the competition for the traveling scholarship held in 1899 was narrowly beaten by Max Meldrum, another student of unusual ability.
Ramsay went to Europe in September 1900 and was fortunate in finding a kindred spirit, George Washington Lambert, on the same vessel. Arriving at Paris, he entered Academie Colarossi and was soon recognized as a student of great potential. He sent five pictures to the 1902 exhibition of the Societe Nationale des Beaux-Arts and four of these were accepted and hung together. No greater compliment could have been paid to a young student. Another Australian student whose studio was in the same building, Ambrose McCarthy Patterson  (brother-in-law of Nellie Melba, then at the height of her fame). Ramsay was introduced to Melba, who gave him a commission for a portrait and would no doubt have been able to help him in his career. Unfortunately Ramsay became ill in Paris, and it became necessary for him to return to the warmer climate of Australia and the opportunity to paint Melba was missed. Before leaving Europe, he had exhibited four pictures at the British Colonial Art Exhibition held in London at the Royal Institute galleries.
Returning to Australia, in spite of failing health, Ramsay succeeded in doing some remarkable work including The Sisters, now in the Sydney gallery, the Lady with a Fan (possibly his most famous painting), the portrait of David Scott Mitchell, and his own portrait, now in the Melbourne gallery. He gradually became weaker and died on 5 March 1906 a few weeks before completing his twenty-ninth year.
 Self-portrait with glasses, c. 1905, oil on canvas, 30.5 x 23.0 cm, Private collection


 Self- portrait, half-length with pointing finger, c. 1905, oil on canvas, 76.0 x 60.5 cm, Private collection