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Ramsay painted another portrait of Janet Carmichael c.1752-3. It is similar in size to this portrait, but without a false oval and facing right, and was made as a pendant to a portrait of her husband by Agostino Masucci, painted in Rome in 1742 (collection Carmichael family). Another likeness of her can be found in the pair of three-quarter-length portraits painted of her and her husband by John Thomas Seton in 1773 (collection Carmichael family).
The Tate's portrait may have been painted for the sitter's father, Lord Prestongrange (1701-64). Ramsay painted Lord Prestongrange's wife in 1749 and painted him in 1751; both portraits, signed and dated and of the same size as this one, were sold in the same sale as this picture by the executors of the late Sir George Grant-Suttie (Sotheby's, London, 14 April 1948).
This portrait was painted at a time when Ramsay was in great demand and soon after the death in 1749 of his best drapery painter, Joseph Van Aken. The composition typically combines a frequently repeated pose and draperies with a robustly modelled, characterful head, painted in the forthright and virile manner which Ramsay employed at this period. After his second trip to Italy in 1754-7, his style took on more Continental influences.
Alastair Smart, The Life and Art of Allan Ramsay, London 1952, pp.54, 210 no.LXXXII
The Tate Gallery 1984-86: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1988, pp.76-7, reproduced
Terry RiggsJanuary 1998