Ramsay, Allan (1852-1912)

Ramsay, Allan (1852-1912)

Canvases saturated in gorgeous colour and covered in evocative depictions of the Scottish landscape grace the oeuvre of Scottish artist Allan Ramsay.

Ramsay lived and worked his entire life in Dundee and the surrounding area, settling in the remote village of Edzell for the last 25 years of his life.

He derived much inspiration from the varied and intriguing offerings of the Scottish countryside which surrounded him. From the fields surrounding the village at Edzell to the cragged path carved through the highlands and lowlands by the River Esk.

These Ramsay executed in a strong naturalistic style. He captures the diffusion of light across the landscape, adding drama and character to each minuscule feature. The burning umber of autumnal trees are set alight in a bushel of brushstrokes. Each mossy crag of stone walls and boulders lining a river are hammered into place. Distant hills undulate, seemingly alive in their being through Ramsay’s slick brushwork, his evocative palette. Skies, too, have a strong majesty and energetic being.

These works fell very much into the style favoured by Scottish landscape painters during Ramsay’s time. The romanticised drama of their native land was set to rest in favour of these more naturalistic works, works that turned to nature as their first and foremost mistress. Artists could enhance the ethereal and ever-changing nature of their surroundings through works instilled with just as much emotion and character.

It seems unsurprising, therefore, that Ramsay successfully exhibited his landscapes throughout his lifetime. He exhibited 19 paintings over 40 years at the Royal Scottish Academy, and four pieces at the Glasgow Institution. As well as this he was a frequent contributor to provincial exhibitions in his surrounding area, often showing at the Montrose Fine Art Exhibition and with the Dundee Art Club.

As well as his landscapes, Ramsay was also a successful portrait painter. He completed commissions for a number of notable Dundee figures, including Andrew McChesney. He also took commissions from those in Edzell. A portrait remains of a notable lady of this area, Agnes Dunbar. The same keen and crisp realism afforded to his landscapes is evident in the distinguished, dignified depiction of her image.

Indeed, it seems that Ramsay was an important figure within Edzell. He opened his own studio there and also contributed illustrations to a book by an author on the Angus region. In many ways, through his art, did Ramsay celebrate and elevate both human and natural life in the surrounding area.

Today, a number of his works can be found in the Glenesk Folk Museum, as well as in art galleries and museums across Dundee.


Born in Dundee, Scotland.


Exhibited frequently at the Royal Scottish Academy.


Exhibited at the Dundee Art Club Exhibition.


Married Margaret E. Belford.


Exhibited at the Montrose Fine Art Exhibition.


Exhibited at the Montrose Fine Art Exhibition.


Died in Edzell, Scotland.

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