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David Ramsay Hay

(1798—1866) decorative painter and writer on art and design


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David Ramsay Hay was born in Edinburgh in March 1798 and died there on 10 September 1866. His father died prematurely, leaving the family penniless, but he was provided with something of an education by David Ramsay, a banker in Edinburgh and owner of the Edinburgh Evening Courant. Ramsay, after whom Hay was named, later gave him a job as a ‘reading-boy’ in the printing office of his newspaper. He did not take to this position and instead took up an apprenticeship to Gavin Beugo, a decorative painter in Edinburgh, at the age of fourteen. He displayed quite an aptitude for drawing and, his reputation growing, he assisted in the decoration of Walter Scott's house, Abbotsford. In 1828 he started his own business in Edinburgh as a house-decorator and proved to be successful in what was becoming a popular branch of the decorative arts. Of his many notable commissions, the decoration of the hall of the Society of Arts in London in 1846 was one of which he was particularly proud.

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From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Philosophy.


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