The Philadelphia-born Ramsey is most often identified with the painters of that city. He studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in the early 1860s where he knew Thomas Eakins, the muralist Edwin Blashfield, and others. While at the Academy he first began to explore still life painting, which would remain his primary thematic interest throughout his career. Ramsey moved to Lawrence Park in 1897. Like many of his new neighbors, he took an interest in landscape painting, although still life remained his forte.
The largest of the four small paintings in the Conservancy’s collection is a boat scene, which was painted in 1911, four years after he left his home in Lawrence Park. The three works are small and charming landscapes painted on cigar box lids, a practice Ramsey adopted in his later years. Although Ramsey is best known for his still lifes, these paintings reflect a turn to a freer, more expressive style that records the immediacy of his vision.