David Hay (artist)

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David Ramsay Hay FRSE (March, 1798, Edinburgh -10 September 1866) was a Scottish artist, interior decorator and colour theorist.

David Ramsay Hay was the son of a published poet and friend of Robert Burns, Rebekah Carmichael.[1] After her husband died, David was educated at the expense of an uncle, then apprenticed as a painter with the house-painters Gavin Beugo & Robertson in Edinburgh, as was his friend the topographical artist David Roberts. In April 1820 he commenced work at Abbotsford for Walter Scott.[2] In 1850 he decorated Holyroodhouse for Queen Victoria. In the 1920s, Queen Mary had these decorative schemes painted over, but watercolours commissioned by Victoria in 1863 give some idea of their appearance.[3]

Entrance Hall at Abbotsford, decorated by David Ramsay Hay, 1824

Hay was an advocate of imitative finishes such as graining and marbling, and textured paints to imitate brocade fabrics.[4] From 1828, he developed his theory of colour harmony over six successive editions of his book, The Laws of Harmonious Colouring Adapted to Interior Decorations.[5] Hay wrote about his experience decorating Abbotsford for Walter Scott in the sixth edition of his Harmonious Colouring.[6]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Lonsdale, Roger H., ed., Eighteenth Century Women Poets: an Anthology, OUP (1990) 445.
  2. ^ Hay, Harmonious Colouring, 6th edition (1847), 182.
  3. ^ Morton, Theresa-May, Royal Residences of the Victorian Era, The Royal Collection (1991), 53-59
  4. ^ Bristow, Ian C., Interior House Painting Colours & Technology, 1615-1840, Yale (1996), 141.
  5. ^ Bristow, Ian C., Architectural Colour in British Interiors, 1615-1840, Yale (1996), 191
  6. ^ Harmonious Colouring, 6th edition (1847), pp.181-97, see external links.