Throughout his career Ramsay often used himself as a model - there are in fact twenty recorded oil self-portraits. This painting is, however, considered to be his most accomplished. In this three-quarter-length, full-frontal self portrait, the artist, wearing a high-buttoned white jacket, stands with his left hand on his hip and in his lowered right hand holds a brush. With its stylish hand-on-hip pose it fits with the tradition of the ‘swagger portrait’ – a tradition that had its origins in the Renaissance but that was also evident in the work of the celebrated portrait painter John Singer Sargent, an influential contemporary of Ramsay’s.
Text © National Gallery of Victoria, Australia