Fort museum appeals for help to bring back iconic Stuart Dynasty portraits

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The West Highland Museum in Fort William is calling on the public to help it bring a prestigious collection of paintings of the Royal House of Stuart from Europe to Scotland to help mark the museum’s centenary next year.

The museum hopes to stage a three-month exhibition of royal portraiture and
has been offered exclusive access to a private collection of paintings owned by the
Pininski Foundation, in Liechtenstein.

The proposed exhibition will include 13 paintings of four generations of the Royal House of Stuart, including James VIII (the Old Pretender) and his wife Princess Clementina Sobieska, through to Prince Charles Edward Stuart, better known as Bonnie Prince Charlie, and his daughter, Charlotte the Duchess of Albany. The series of painting ends with Charlotte’s daughter Princess Marie Victorie de Rohan.

In order to finance this important exhibition, the museum team has embarked on an ambitious crowdfunding campaign, which launched yesterday (Wednesday) on Art Fund’s Art Happens crowdfunding platform and which will run until Monday, November 15.

Museum director, Chris Robinson, explained ‘We need to raise £25,000 to cover the cost of delivering this exciting exhibition to the public in 2022.

‘We need your help in raising funds to make this happen and bring Bonnie Prince Charlie and the exiled Stuarts back to Scotland. It will likely be the last time these iconic portraits will be displayed in the United Kingdom as they may soon be on permanent display at a European museum.’

Broadcaster and historian Paul Murton, from the BBC Scotland’s Grand Tours of
Scotland series, is backing the campaign and hosts the campaign video.

You can help support the museum in its quest by visiting the campaign page and
donating. There are fantastic rewards on offer for those who contribute, including
tours of the exhibition with Professor Edward Corp and art historian Peter Pininski,
and hand-graved Jacobite glass.

The paintings have never before been displayed together in the UK and some have never before been exhibited here. Others, such as a portrait of an elderly Prince Charles Edward Stuart by Hugh Douglas Hamilton, painted in Rome in 1786 were last displayed in Scotland in Glasgow in 1910.

Museum curator Vanessa Martin said it was in 1925 that the museum held its first
major public exhibition dedicated to the Jacobites and established itself as a Jacobite
museum.

She added: ‘The Jacobite Rising started here in Lochaber with Prince Charles Edward
Stuart raising his father’s Standard at Glenfinnan on August 19 to signal the start of
the last Jacobite Rising.

For our centenary we have been offered this wonderful opportunity by the Pininski Foundation to present a public exhibition of rarely displayed royal portraiture.’

To find out more about the crowdfunding campaign and how to donate visit:
artfund.org/bonnie-prince-charlie