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Hugh Ramsay

In their own words

Hugh Ramsay
Audio: 2 minutes

I’ve met someone who will be of more help to me than anyone else, namely, Madame Melba. Patterson brought her to my studio last Friday afternoon. She was accompanied by Mr Haddon Chambers, the playwright, and an Australian girl, Miss Johnstone. Madame Melba was great, and made me tell her all about myself, how many commissions I’d had over here and all that. She was intensely sympathetic, and I quite fell in love with her. I fancy she rather took to me, for some reason or another, as she seemed so interested, and told me she would be very angry with me if I didn’t go and see her first thing when I get to London, and she promised quite voluntarily, of her own accord, to do everything she can to help me, which coming from such a person, is almost an assurance of success. With such a friend as Madame Melba, who knows everybody who is anything, well, it looks rosy for me, Auntie. My luck’s in lately. My greatest fortune, next to having four pictures in the Salon, is to have been looked on favourable [sic] by Madame Melba.

She actually sat for half an hour for me, to do a sketch, but I was a bit flabbergasted and too nervous to do a chef d’oeuvre. She has promised that she will pose for me in London. What an opportunity. Think of it. If I could make a successful portrait of her, I’m a made man.

Madame Melba’s a charming lady, so natural, sincere and unaffected. Although she’s a great lady, you feel at home with her from the first, she doesn’t put fears into your heart, as many in her position would, but makes you feel quite at your ease. I could tell you heaps of little incidents that happened during her one and a half hour stay at the studio, but wait till I see you, when perhaps I’ll have more to add.

Acknowledgements

Ramsay, Hugh (1902) Letter from Paris to his aunt, 3 April 1902, Ramsay Family Archive, National Gallery of Australia

Attribution

Voiced by James Thomasson

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Hugh Ramsay

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

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