Hugh Ramsay was one of Australia’s most gifted artists. His career spanned scarcely a decade; he was, however, prolific, accomplished and mature beyond his years.

Born in 1877, he grew up in Melbourne and studied at the National Gallery School, where he was one of the most brilliant students.

At twenty-four, having moved to Paris to study art and to paint, he gained early international recognition when four of his paintings were hung at the New Salon. He was on the cusp of fame, having gained the patronage of Nellie Melba, and he began her portrait.

But the long hours of hard work, lack of money, poor diet and inadequate housing in Paris led to tuberculosis. He was forced to return to Melbourne where, during the last four years of his life, facing imminent death and against medical advice, he painted some of his finest works.
He died in 1906, aged twenty-eight.

His death is the greatest loss Australian art has suffered; if he had lived it is difficult to imagine what would have been the limit of his unusual powers.

Arthur Streeton 1929.

Ramsay’s name might not be widely known to the public today, yet by certain artists and scholars it has been hallowed for almost a century. 

James Mollinson 1992.

How he would have revelled in the problems of today and what heights he would have achieved! That he died before achieving his full stature as an artist is not only a personal tragedy; it is a national calamity.

George Bell 1943.

This show is clear proof of the work of a genius…one of the outstanding features of Ramsay’s work is its utter sincerity.

Harold Herbert 1943.