- Other Titles
- Portrait of a lady
Lady in blue. Portrait of Mr and Mrs James McDonald
The lady in blue (Mr and Mrs J S MacDonald)
- Place where the work was made
- Media category
- Materials used
- oil on canvas
- 172.0 x 112.0 cm stretcher; 171.0 x 110.8 cm sight; 200.0 x 139.8 x 7.0 cm frame
- Signature & date
Signed l.l., brown oil "Hugh Ramsay". Not dated.
Signed verso on canvas, black oil "HUGH RAMSAY/ ...".
- Presented by the family of Hugh Ramsay 1943
- Grand Courts
- Accession number
- Artist information
Works in the collection
'A lady in blue' was painted by Australian expatriate artist Hugh Ramsay while he was studying in Paris between 1901 and 1902. It depicts fellow Australian student JS MacDonald with his American fiancée Maud Keller in the studio-apartment MacDonald and Ramsay shared at Montparnasse.
Keller is portrayed standing in profile wearing a striking blue dress, while her beau poses casually in the background. The book and violin located in the bottom right-hand corner allude to the musical and literary interests of the artist and his subjects. Yet we should not read too much into Ramsay’s intriguing juxtaposition of still life and portraiture, as he often emphasised aesthetics over narrative content in his works. This approach reveals the influence of American expatriate artist James Abbott McNeill Whistler's belief in 'art for art's sake'.
Ramsay was proud of 'A lady blue', describing it as the 'best thing I've done' in a letter to his sister Madge in April 1902.
Where the work was made
Shown in 10 exhibitions
British Colonial Art Exhibition, Royal Institute of Painters Galleries, Piccadilly, 14 Jun 1902–20 Jul 1902
Exhibition of pictures by Hugh Ramsay, 'Myoora', North Caulfield, 16 Dec 1902–18 Dec 1902
Victorian Artists Society Winter Exhibition (1904), , , 09 Jul 1904–Jul 1904
Hugh Ramsay memorial exhibition, Fine Arts Society Gallery, Melbourne, 01 Oct 1918–12 Oct 1918
Hugh Ramsay loan exhibition, National Gallery of Victoria [Swanston Street], Melbourne, 16 Mar 1943–18 Apr 1943
A retrospective exhibition of Australian painting, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 25 Sep 1953–25 Oct 1953
Hugh Ramsay 1877-1906, National Gallery of Victoria [St Kilda Road], Melbourne, 15 Dec 1992–08 Feb 1993
The Edwardians: Secrets and Desire, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 12 Mar 2004–13 Jun 2004
The Edwardians: Secrets and Desire, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, 09 Jul 2004–12 Sep 2004
Hugh Ramsay, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 30 Nov 2019–29 Mar 2020
Grand Courts Collection Rehang, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Nov 2021–2025
Referenced in 8 publications
Patricia Fullerton, Hugh Ramsay 1877-1906, Melbourne, 1992, 61 (colour illus.). cat.no. 39
Anna Gray, The Edwardians: secrets and desires, Canberra, 2004, 213 (colour illus.). cat.no. 109
Anne Gray, The Cambridge companion to Australian Art, 'Australian artists within a wider world 1900-1930', pg. 84-96, Port Melbourne, 2011, 88, 351. fig.no. 7.4 (colour illus.), between pg. 108 and 109.
Deborah Hart, Hugh Ramsay, Canberra, 2019, 128 (colour illus.), 129, 232 (list of works).
Hal Missingham, A retrospective exhibition of Australian painting, Sydney, 1953. cat.no. 91; titled 'The lady in blue'
Edward A Vidler, The art of Hugh Ramsay, 'Hugh Ramsay. An appreciation', pg. 5-20, Melbourne, 1918, 14, 19 (colour illus.), 26. cat.no. 9
Editor Unknown (Editor), Argus, 'Paintings of Hugh Ramsay. Australian's notable work', Melbourne, 01 Oct 1918. Review of Hugh Ramsay's 1918 Memorial Exhibition, held at the Fine Art Society, Melbourne.
Author Unknown, Victorian Artists' Society Winter Exhibition Catalogue 1904, 'Catalogue - North Gallery.', Melbourne, 1904, n. pag.. cat.no 13
Other works by Hugh Ramsay
See all 7 works