Ramsay – David Prophet Ramsay (1888-1944)

David Prophet Ramsay was a Perth born artist who was nearly left for dead in World War 1; David was born in Perth (6 July 1888) and died in Trochry (11 January 1944)

Early years

  • David was born the sixth and youngest child of Perth China Merchant, Alexander Ramsay and his wife Jean Ann Prophet
  • David studied at Perth Academy before a period of work in a local carpet factory

Student in Glasgow

  • In 1909 David went to Glasgow School of Art
  • There David studied under Greiffenhagen and Artot
  • David won the Haldane Travel Scholarship, the top prize for a senior student
  • David used his prize to visit Belgium, Holland, France and Italy in 1913

Active service

  • David returned to Europe in 1916 having joined the 4th Battalion The Black Watch, as a Private, the previous December
  • David was seriously wounded at the Battle of Pilcken Ridge, only weeks after his 29th birthday and less than a month after being promoted to Lieutenant, on 31 July 1917
  • David’s injuries were such that he was was nearly left for dead but for a Canadian doctor who saved him
  • During his time in the army, David produced a series of caricatures of his fellow officers
  • David used the pseudonym “Sam Ray” (a corruption of his surname, Ram-say) for these sketches, which were published in a portfolio


  • Back in Perth, in 1923 David married Beatrice Elizabeth Hewat, whose father ran the Windsor Restaurant in St John Street
  • David set up studio as a portrait and figure painter
  • In 1930 David was commissioned to paint the then Princess Elizabeth (subsequently HM Queen Elizabeth II), the sittings taking place at Glamis Castle
  • David was a member of the Perthshire Art Association and the Dundee Art Society (of which he was elected President in 1930)
  • David exhibited his work at numerous exhibitions in the UK, including the Royal Academy, Royal Scottish Academy and the Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts
  • David’s work is represented in several public collections


  • David died at his home, Kennacoil House, early in 1944
  • David’s death was probably hastened by his wartime injuries and not aided by his heavy smoking
  • David is buried close to his final home in the small graveyard at Lagganalachie by Trochry, near Dunkeld


  • David was accorded the first one-person memorial exhibition in Perth Museum and Art Gallery in the summer of 1944
  • Opening the day after what would have been David’s 56th birthday, over 169 works were shown
  • They were borrowed from public and private collections
  • A second exhibition of David’s work, accompanied by a short booklet illustrating his life and work, was mounted in Perth Museum and Art Gallery in 1988 to commemorate the Centenary of his birth
  • Many of his pictures entered the Perth Museum and Art Gallery collection in 1959 as a bequest from his widow

Works by David Prophet Ramsay in Perth Museum and Art Gallery

(it is not possible to have the entire collection on show at any one time. To view material not on display please contact the Art Section to make an appointment)


  • A Strong Man, pencil on paper
  • Allegory, pencil and watercolour on paper
  • Catherine Brooks, domestic servant to the Ramsays, pencil on paper
  • Airman Jimmie McCash, the artist’s nephew, pencil on paper
  • Lord Bruce of Broomhall, pencil on paper
  • Figure Study, pencil on paper
  • Figure Study, pencil on paper
  • Figure Study, pencil on paper
  • Woman Tending a Fallen Soldier Beside a Field Gun, pencil and watercolour on paper
  • Design for a Carpet

Oil paintings

  • Self-Portrait, oil on canvas
  • A Venetian Canal, oil on canvas
  • Elcho Castle and Cottage, oil on canvas
  • Garden Craiggantaggart, oil on canvas
  • Romance, oil on canvas
  • A Studio Tea Party, oil on canvas
  • Rosalie (“Firelight”), oil on canvas
  • My Model, oil on canvas
  • Beatrix, oil on canvas
  • Nude, oil on canvas
  • Saint Agnes, oil on canvas
  • Portrait of a Lady, oil on canvas
  • Portrait Study, oil on canvas
  • Betty, oil on canvas
  • Vera, oil on canvas
  • The Artist’s Wife, oil on canvas
  • Portrait of the Artist’s Wife, oil on canvas
  • Full Length Portrait of Mrs D P Ramsay, oil on canvas
  • Portrait of an Unknown Lady, oil on canvas
  • Portrait of Robina Ramsay, the artist’s sister, oil on canvas

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