This significant body of new work consists of paintings made in response to the practice of the celebrated eighteenth-century portrait artist Allan Ramsay (1713-84) and are on show for the first time. The exhibition explores the artist’s continuing fascination with Ramsay’s portraits. Watt, most known for her beautiful and intricate large-scale paintings of drapery and folds, has long been an admirer of Ramsay’s portraits of women, in particular the intensely personal images of his first and second wives, Margaret Lindsay of Evelick and Anne Bayne. Both portraits are in the Gallery’s collection and will be shown alongside Watt’s new work.
The exhibition is the fruit of a long period of study of the extensive archive of Ramsay paintings, drawings and sketchbooks held by National Galleries of Scotland. Watt has said, “Looking into an artist’s archive is to view the struggle that takes place to make a work of art. A painting is a visual record of the inside of the artist’s mind. A painting is something that takes place over time; it is not static. To look at a work of art is to engage with an idea, and that is not a one sided activity. It’s more of a conversation.”