About this artwork

Like many Enlightenment figures, Ramsay was fascinated by the classical past and he undertook four extended visits to Italy. This bust was sculpted during the artist’s third stay in Italy. Appropriately, Foye shows Ramsay draped as if wearing a toga, like an ancient Roman senator. The face is realistically observed, revealing an ageing man. Ramsay was, by this time, in poor health; in 1773 he had dislocated his shoulder falling from a ladder and was no longer able to paint. He made his final visit to Italy in 1782 and died in Dover on his way home.

Michael Foye

Michael Foye

Little is known about the Irish sculptor Michael Foye. He entered one of Dublin’s art schools - the Dublin Society School in 1765. In 1767 he exhibited two works at the Society of Artists and by 1770 he is known to be working in the studio of the sculptor, John Van Nost. Two years later he had travelled to Italy. It is believed he was the ‘Foy’ who sent a ‘bust of an artist’ from Rome to an exhibition of the Society of Artists.