The Legacy of Hugh Ramsay
Hugh Ramsay (1877-1906) is one of Australia’s most revered Edwardian artists. He was a highly talented, prolific and industrious artist, who enjoyed amazing success during his short life, especially during his brief sojourn in Europe. In 1902, four of his paintings were hung “on the line” at the Societe National des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Sadly his life was cut tragically short when he died of tuberculosis at 28 years of age.
Hugh Ramsay had strong connections to Launceston and this fact is reflected in the significant number of his paintings gifted by the family to the QVMAG collection. His brother, John Ramsay, had a distinguished medical career and was the first surgeon general of the Launceston General Hospital. His family resided for many years at Raglan in Launceston. The QVMAG also has over fifty drawings from his student days at the National Gallery School, Melbourne.
The Australian Institute of Art History, together with the National Gallery of Australia, recently held a one day symposium, The Legacy of Hugh Ramsay, to reassess the artist’s importance. This also provided the opportunity to celebrate the endowment of a chair in Australian art history at the University of Melbourne in his name, by his great niece Patricia Fullerton. I was fortunate to be able to attend this significant event.
Papers were presented by Australia’s most eminent art historians, academics and art museum curators on aspects of Hugh Ramsay’s life, work and continuing influence. Many made reference to the importance of the QVMAG’s Ramsay Collection.
It is a great privilege to work with the QVMAG’s art collection – it is amongst the finest in the nation. The symposium provided an opportunity to re-consider an aspect of the collection, in this case our Hugh Ramsay collection, in the context of other public collections of his work. It is hard to underestimate the benefits of such an opportunity.
Bridget Arkless, Curator Twentieth Century Australian Art.