Portrait artist and essayist Allan Ramsay was born at Edinburgh, son of the poet of the same name. He studied in Edinburgh, London and Rome, where he was influenced by the Italian baroque. He was also familiar with French contemporary portraiture. Settling in London upon his return from Italy in 1738 Ramsay started to make his name. Considerable success led to his employing the fabric painter, Joseph van Aken, to enable him to fulfill the number of commissions he was receiving.
During this time Ramsay was also travelling to Scotland to paint portraits and he and his second wife moved to Edinburgh in 1754. After a further sojourn in Italy, the Ramsays were back in London in 1757, where he enjoyed royal patronage for the rest of his life, becoming official painter to HRH King George III. An arm injury sustained in 1773 ended Ramsay's career; further visits to Italy were made for remedial purposes and pursuit of intellectual interests. He died at Dover on his return to England in 1784.