Allan Ramsay

Archibald Campbell [Mac Cailein Mòr], 3rd Duke of Argyll, 1682 - 1761. Statesman (1744)

About this artwork

Before succeeding his brother to the title of Duke of Argyll in 1744, Archibald Campbell was known as Earl of Ilay. A Whig supporter in the turbulent political climate of the early 1700s, he was Robert Walpole’s right-hand man in Scotland and became a very powerful figure during the 1740s and 50s. Trained as a lawyer, he held important posts including that of lord justice-general, the head of Scotland’s highest criminal court. This portrait, showing the Duke in legal robes, is one of three portraits of him by Ramsay. The image is now well-known due to Ilay’s close involvement in the foundation of the Royal Bank of Scotland in 1727. An engraved version of this very portrait appears on all of its banknotes from 1987 onwards, and features as a watermark in the newest series.

Allan Ramsay

Allan Ramsay

Ramsay, named after his father who was a poet, was internationally renowned for his outstanding portraits. He attended the new Academy of St Luke in Edinburgh and then continued his artistic education in Italy. He visited Rome, studying at the French Academy and Naples. British residents commissioned many portraits from him and as soon as he returned to London he established a successful studio. He also returned to Edinburgh regularly. King George III appointed him King's painter. As a gifted conversationalist and writer of essays, Ramsay pursued his scholarly interests when injury to his right arm in 1773 cut short his painting career.