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Allan Ramsay (1713-84)

Queen Charlotte (1744-1818) 1762

Oil on canvas | 249.0 x 161.6 x 3.0 cm (support, canvas/panel/stretcher external) | RCIN 405308

State Dining Room, Buckingham Palace

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  • This is the prime versions of Ramsay’s State Portrait of Queen Charlotte in coronation robes and forms a pair with the State Portrait of George III (RCIN 405307). The Scottish artist had already painted George III as Prince of Wales in 1758 for John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute, Ramsay’s most important patron in London and George III’s tutor and mentor. The success of that portrait and of a portrait of Bute (both Mount Stuart, Isle of Bute), led to this major commission. Ramsay wrote in 1766: ‘I painted, from the life, a whole length picture of him for Hanover, a profile for the coinage, and another whole length which after the Coronation, I, by his Majesties orders dressed in Coronation robes. Soon after her Majesty’s arrival, she likewise did me the honour to sit to me; and these two pictures in coronation robes are the originals from which all the copies ordered by the Lord Chamberlain are painted.’

    Through an error John Shackleton (who died in 1767) was reappointed to the post of Principal Painter in Ordinary to George III on the King’s accession. Ramsay, however, was given the title ‘one of His Majesty’s Principal Painters in Ordinary’ and assumed the duties of the King’s painter. His studio in Soho Square was described as being ‘crowded with portraits of His Majesty in every stage of their operation’. The demand for versions of these official State Portraits was immense, from members of the royal family, sovereigns, heads of state, colonial governors, ambassadors, corporations, institutions and courtiers. Orders for 150 pairs, 26 of the King alone, 9 of the Queen alone, are listed. Ramsay resolved to ‘give the last painting to all of them with my own hand’ but employed several assistants, the best of whom were David Martin and Philip Reinagle.

    Four pairs of Ramsay’s full lengths are documented in the royal palaces at an early date. This one did not appear in the set of c.1774 hanging plans of Buckingham House and may previously have hung at either St James’s Palace or Carlton House. One of the pairs was painted for Augusta, Princess of Wales, and framed in 1767-8 by the King’s cabinet-makers John Bradburn and William France. 

    Commissioned by George III; recorded in 1767 at Carlton House, the residence of George III's mother, Princess Augusta; probably in the King's Presence Chamber at Windsor Castle in 1813; certainly back at Carlton House in 1816 and 1819, when it is recorded in the Old Throne Room (no 16) and appears in Pyne's illustrated Royal Residences (RCIN 922179); in the Throne Room at Buckingham Palace in 1841 (no 187)

  • Medium and techniques

    Oil on canvas


    249.0 x 161.6 x 3.0 cm (support, canvas/panel/stretcher external)

    237.1 x 153.0 cm (sight)

    251.3 x 164.5 x 4.4 cm (frame, rebate)

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