Fort museum adds new painting to Jacobite collection

West Highland Museum curator Vanessa Martin, with museum chair, Ian Peter MacDonald, and the newly acquired painting. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos NO F47 Museum painting 01
West Highland Museum curator Vanessa Martin, with museum chair, Ian Peter MacDonald, and the newly acquired painting. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos NO F47 Museum painting 01

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The West Highland Museum in Fort William has now added to its collection a much-sought after painting by the well-known artist, Sir David Young Cameron.

The museum has just purchased his October in Knoydart, an oil on canvas depicting Lochaber’s mountainous scenery.

Museum curator Vanessa Martin told the Lochaber Times: ‘The museum had been looking to purchase a D Y Cameron painting for some time when we can across this one by chance at the Fine Art Society in Edinburgh early this year.

‘D Y Cameron was one of the foremost painters and printers of his day and had close links with the West Highlands and our museum. He was one of our earliest museum members in the 1920s.’

And D Y Cameron, who lived from 1865–1945, also has a link to plans by the museum for a fund-raising venture to help mark the museum’s 100th anniversary.

In 1928 the museum purchased The Strange Plate, an 18th-century copper printing plate that had been commissioned by Prince Charles Edward Stuart on the eve of Culloden to print bank notes for the Jacobite cause.

It was etched by the famous artist, Sir Robert Strange at Inverness in 1746.  However, due to the Battle of Culloden, it was never printed from and was later found abandoned shortly after the battle on the shore of Loch Laggan.

It remained in the possession of the MacPherson’s of Cluny until 1928 when it was sold to the museum. When it arrived at the museum, D Y Cameron printed 57 signed proofs from it and these were sold for 10/6 to raise funds for the fledgling museum.

The museum was founded in 1922 and moved into its premises on Cameron Square in 1926.  A copy of one of the prints is displayed at the museum alongside the Strange Plate.

The museum celebrates its centenary in 2022 and Ms Martin is currently exploring the possibility of printing from the printing plate again to raise funds for the museum.

‘We planned to purchase a D Y Cameron for our fine art collection to be displayed in our Jacobite gallery alongside the Strange Plate and 1928 print,’ Ms Martin explained.

‘October in Knoydart is the perfect painting, depicting the Lochaber landscape and will tell the story not only of Cameron’s connection with the museum, but also the story of the aftermath of the 1745 Rising when Prince Charles Edward Stuart was on the run in the Highlands hiding in this landscape from the Hanoverian army.

‘The purchase was made with the assistance of the Art Fund, National Fund for Acquisitions and the family of the late John Gooch (1929 -2019).

‘The painting will hang in our Jacobite gallery in memory of John Gooch who was a former director of the museum and great nephew of our founder, Victor Hodgson.’