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Portrait, Mezzotint, Lady with Turban, Allen Ramsay, Antique Print, London, mid 18th Century


Allen Ramsay (1713-1784) (after)
James McArdell (c.1729-1765) (engraver)
Lady with Turban
James McArdell, London: 1753
Black and white mezzotint
13 x 8.75 inches, plate mark
15.25 x 11.25 inches, sheet

Mezzotint portrait of a woman in a turban. She is thought by some to be Eva Merthens (b. c. 1696), a Finnish woman who was the long-time mistress of the Scottish aristocrat and military leader James Franklin Edward Keith (1696-1758). However, the British National Portrait Gallery, which has this mezzotint in its collection, lists her as an “unknown sitter.”

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Allan Ramsay was a Scottish painter and writer, who completed his training in Rome and Naples. He spent most of his career in London, where he was the leading British portrait painter from 1738 to about 1760. There he played a major role in establishing a national school and was appointed Painter to King George III in 1761. In the mid-1750’s he developed a style of informal, naturalistic portraiture and soft coloration, influenced by French painting, that in turn influenced Joshua Reynolds, Thomas Gainsborough and Henry Raeburn. Around 1770, he stopped painting and pursued writing. Britain’s National Portrait Gallery has some 80 portrait paintings and prints after his paintings in their collection.

James McArdell was a prolific and esteemed engraver, born in Dublin, who moved to London in 1746 with his master, the engraver John Brooks. By 1750, he had established himself as a mezzotint engraver, where he became the center of a circle of other Dublin engravers who had followed him there, including Richard Houston, Charles Spooner and Richard Purcell. McArdell produced some 200 mezzotints after other artists, mainly portraits. These include prints after Anthony van Dyck, Peter Lely, Joshua Reynolds, Allan Ramsay, Rembrandt, Peter Paul Rubens, William Hogarth and others.

Full publication information: James McArdell, the Golden Head, Covent Garden, London

Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light toning, wear, soft creases. Some portions of outer edges slightly frayed, but margins very large.


“Allan Ramsay.” National Portrait Gallery. 2 June 2005. (2 June 2005).

“Allan Ramsay.” The Grove Dictionary of Art. New York: Macmillan. 2000. Online at (2 June 2005).

Goodwin, Gordon. James McArdell. London: A. H. Bullen, 1903, Item 31, state iii/iv.

“James McArdell.” The Grove Dictionary of Art. New York: Macmillan. 2000. Online at (2 June 2005).

Russell, Charles E. English Mezzotint Portraits and Their States: Catalogue of Corrections of and Additions to Chaloner Smith’s ‘British Mezzotinto Portraits.’ Vol 2. London: Halton & Truscott Smith, Ltd. New York: Minto, Balch & Co., 1926. Chaloner Smith 906, p. 223.

Additional information


18th Century