A Country Girl at Surrentum

Allan Ramsay British, Scottish

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 690

Ramsay, a leading eighteenth-century portraitist and chief competitor of Sir Joshua Reynolds, was considered more sympathetic in his treatment of female subjects. A refined draftsman, he honed his technique during repeated visits to France and Italy. After a painful arm injury forced him to give up painting, the artist sought treatment at a spa on Ischia, near Naples, during summer 1776. By September he had recovered enough to produce a group of sensitive chalk drawings, including this study of an Italian girl at Sorrento. The sensual treatment of neck and cheek, simple dress, and unfocused gaze encapsulate the naturalism of the artist’s late style and lend the work a proto-Romantic air. The profile pose and Latinized place name, Surrentum—inscribed on the verso—evoke the classical past.

A Country Girl at Surrentum, Allan Ramsay (British, Edinburgh, Scotland 1713–1784 Dover), Red chalk, heightened with white

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