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American Paintings and Sculpture
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
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Photo Credit: Christopher Gardner
Photo credit: Christopher Gardner
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Photo Credit: Christopher Gardner
Photo credit: Christopher Gardner
Artist: John Ramage, British, born Ireland, ca. 1748–1802, active United States, 1775–94

New York Dandy

ca. 1785

Watercolor on ivory

1 1/2 × 15/16 in. (3.8 × 2.4 cm) framed (H): 1 5/8 in.(4.1 cm)
Lelia A. and John Hill Morgan, B.A. 1893, LL.B. 1896, M.A. (Hon.) 1929, Collection
1940.517
Ramage’s likeness of an unknown New York dandy can, on a metaphorical level, be seen as a self-portrait. The artist was well known for his attractive and stylish appearance, which prompted America’s first art historian, William Dunlap, to call the roguish painter “handsome” and “beauish.” The portrait exemplifies Ramage’s masterful technique; delicate lines build convincing sculptural planes in the superbly modeled face. Ramage’s sitters frequently turn slightly to the left, where a point of light against the dark background draws the viewer’s eye to the face, which seems to be illuminated from within. Like most of the artist’s sitters, this one wears modish clothing and a whimsical half-smile. Ramage, an accomplished goldsmith, probably fashioned the marquise locket himself, with its plaited hair on the reverse and intricately decorated rim. His desk, filled with the metalworking tools he used to create or embellish the incised and fluted cases that encircle many of his elegant portraits of affluent patrons, is still extant and in the collection of the New-York Historical Society.
Status: 
Not on view
Culture: 
American
Period: 
18th century
Classification: 
Miniatures - Jewelry
Provenance: 

John Hill Morgan, New York, until 1940

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.