Page last updated at 16:12 GMT, Thursday, 23 October 2008 17:12 UK

Ramsay portrait sells at auction

Allan Ramsay
Allan Ramsay painted his self-portrait in 1749

A painting hailed as one of the most important Scottish portraits to come up for sale in recent years has fetched almost 300,000 at auction.

The self-portrait by Edinburgh-born artist Allan Ramsay was the centrepiece of Christie's auction of Scottish art at the city's Assembly Rooms.

The work, which had never before been offered at auction, sold for 289,250.

A painting by Edinburgh-born Samuel Peploe - Roses - fetched a record 529,250 for a Scottish Colourist.

The Colourists were painting at the turn of the 20th Century and combined French influences with Scottish painting traditions.

The price for the Ramsay portrait, which includes all extra charges, was at the upper end of its estimated value of 200,000-300,000.

The painting was expected to attract the interest of international collectors and institutions, but the buyer's identity has not been revealed.

Ramsay, who lived from 1713 to 1784, is recognised as one of the most talented and prominent portraitists of 18th Century Britain.

He painted only three self-portraits in oil.

Roses by Samuel Peploe
Peploe's Roses attracted a record price for the artist's work
Ramsay moved to London at the age of 20 to study painting, and in 1736 he travelled to Italy, where he spent three years absorbing the influence of the Italian old masters.

On his return to Britain, he was taken under the patronage of the Duke of Bridgewater, the richest noble in Britain, and by 1760 he was painter-in-ordinary to King George III.

The painting sold on Thursday is a version of a self-portrait painted around a decade earlier, which is now in the National Portrait Gallery in London.

It was commissioned by Dr John Ward, a patron of the artist, who is believed to have seen the earlier version in the artist's studio while sitting for a portrait in 1749.

It is thought that he was so drawn to the portrait of the artist that he commissioned a version for himself.

The painting is understood to have passed by family descent until about 1937.

The sale featured about 180 lots representing more than 300 years of Scottish art.

Many of the works have been in private collections and have not appeared on the open market for generations.

The final amount raised at the auction was 2,377,350.

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