‘Portrait of Richard Mead’ by Allan Ramsay
From the storerooms of the Montrose Museum came a painting with a large hole in it. The portrait shows Richard Mead, the physician of King George II and a patron of one of Scotland's most celebrated painters, Allan Ramsay.
The painting had long been thought to be a copy of one in the National Portrait Gallery in London.
The first step was to consolidate the paint around the rip in order to avoid any more loss where flaking had occurred; the distortions were treated locally with moisture and localised pressure, and the edges of the rip were joined. The whole of the canvas was lined in order to support the area of the rip as well as the weakened canvas. This was followed by cleaning if the painting to remove dirt and discoloured varnishes from the surface that had accumulated over the centuries, which revealed a signature and inscription.
After treatment, the painting was recognised to be the original portrait by Allan Ramsay. Now on display in pride of place at the Montrose Museum, the painting has attracted visitors from far and wide. Art historian Dr Duncan Thompson has said: “I’m very pleased to say that this (the Montrose painting) is in fact that lost original portrait and the restoration and the cleaning of the picture has revealed actually a work of extreme brilliance”. John Johnston, the collections officer at ANGUSalive, who operate the museum and care for the Angus Council collections, said: “The results of the restoration work are superb. It is wonderful that a painting by the esteemed Allan Ramsay, perhaps the greatest portrait painter in Britain in the 18th century has been so expertly restored.”
Bendor said: “Simon has spent several weeks working on the portrait of Dr Mead and the results are frankly incredible. There is no sign whatsoever of the substantial hole in the canvas.”