George Romney

(1734-1802)

‘Lady Benedetta Day’ (second size), 11⅞”×9⅞” [30.1cm × 25.0cm],
published by James Connell & Sons, 1910, 175 copies in colour @ 4 gns; 50 copies b/w @ 4 gns

Née Rebecca Ramus, the elder daughter of Nicholas Ramus, a page of the Back Stairs to King George III,  married Sir John Day, Judge Advocate-General of Bengal who was knighted in 1777. It is in connection with the bestowal of this honour that King George is said to have perpetrated his one and only witticism, for when bidding Sir John to rise he complained that he had turned Day into Knight. She and her sister were also painted together by Gainsborough.

“The portrait of Miss Benedetta Ramus, in the same collection, is more vivacious in expression, and is exceptional in that it is one of the rare instances in which Romney has depicted a sitter with a smiling face. The pose, too, is more original, and very successful. The lady leans with her chin resting on her hands, which are folded over a volume of Shakespeare, set upright upon a small mahogany table. Her white dress has short sleeves of elaborate lace work, and the arms are bare from the elbow. It is a very fresh and attractive picture, and like its companion, delicately drawn, and, though a little cold in colour, well painted.

Throughout the reign of George III, many members of the Ramus family, which was of Swiss extraction, filled minor posts about the Court. The head of the family was possibly that Isaac Ramus who, in an obituary notice in the Gentleman’s Magazine, under the date of February 8th, 1770, is said to have been ‘one of the pages of the Back Stairs to his Majesty, a native of Switzerland, and an old and faithful servant to the present royal family’. At that period Nicholas and William Ramus were pages of the Back Stairs, Thomas Ramus was a page of the Bed-Chamber, and three other members of the family, Charles, Joseph, and Louis, held offices in his Majesty’s Kitchen. Charles was also secretary to the Princess-Dowager of Wales.” From George Romney, by Arthur G. Chamberlain, New York: Scribners, 1910).

 

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