Like many Enlightenment figures, Ramsay was fascinated by the classical past and he undertook four extended visits to Italy. This bust was sculpted during the artist’s third stay in Italy. Appropriately, Foye shows Ramsay draped as if wearing a toga, like an ancient Roman senator. The face is realistically observed, revealing an ageing man. Ramsay was, by this time, in poor health; in 1773 he had dislocated his shoulder falling from a ladder and was no longer able to paint. He made his final visit to Italy in 1782 and died in Dover on his way home.