Alan Ramsay Portrait for Bonhams Scottish Sale

A portrait of Lieutenant John Abercrombie of the Ist Foot or the Royal Regiment, known today as The Royal Scots, by the celebrated 18th century Scottish painter, Allan Ramsay, is to be sold at Bonhams Annual Scottish Sale in Edinburgh on Wednesday 31 August. It is estimated at £100,000-150,000.

The Ist Foot was then, as now, the senior infantry regiment in the British Army. John Abercrombie bought his commission as a Lieutenant in the Ist Battalion, Ist Foot on 16 April 1746 (the day of the battle of Culloden) after serving in a number of other Scottish Lowland regiments. He was still occupying the same rank in 1754 when this portrait was painted but, in 1757, was promoted Captain-Lieutenant and then Captain of his own company in the 2nd Battalion.

The following year he died in North America, perhaps the victim of Indian raids on the South Carolina border where the regiment was stationed. Ramsay’s fine portrait shows the soldier in the uniform of the 1st Foot, scarlet with dark facings and gold lace.

Born in Edinburgh in 1713, Alan Ramsay was a hugely successful portrait painter both in his native Scotland and, from the late 1730s, in London where he became Principal Painter in Ordinary to George III. His portraits are noted for their technical excellence and delicacy of touch and a good nature which was said to reflect his own personality. He abandoned painting for literature in 1770 after an accident affected his right arm but struggled with ill health for the rest of his life, much of which was spent in Italy where he had trained as a young man.

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