West Highland Museum reaches Stuart paintings appeal target

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More than 175 people dug deep into their pockets to ensure the West Highland Museum in Fort William hit its £25,000 appeal target to bring a prestigious collection of paintings of the Royal House of Stuart from Europe to Scotland.

The museum called on the public to back its Art Happens crowdfunding campaign this month to ‘bring Bonnie Prince Charlie and his family’ back to Scotland.

And now, thanks to what the museum has described as ‘enormous public support’, the paintings will be on show in August 2022 as part of the museum’s centenary celebrations.

Chairman of the museum board of directors Ian Peter MacDonald said: ‘We have reached our target thanks to the assistance of local people and businesses who contributed to our campaign. This support recognises that the museum is at the heart of the community.’

The museum plans to stage a three-month exhibition of the royal portraits after
being 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.

The portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie painted when an older man in exile in Rome. NO F47 BPC Rome
The portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie painted when an older man in exile in Rome.
NO F47 BPC Rome

Speaking at last month’s launch of the crowdfunding campaign, museum  director Chris Robinson said the exhibition would likely be the last time these portraits will be displayed in the UK as they may soon be on permanent display at a European museum.

The campaign received the backing of broadcaster and historian Paul Murton, from the BBC Scotland’s Grand Tours of Scotland series, who also hosted a campaign video.

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.

The planned exhibition will also include the recently rediscovered portrait of a 16-year-old Bonnie Prince Charlie, by renowned Venetian artist Rosalba Carriera. It is believed to be the only portrait of the prince that pre-dates the 1745 Jacobite Rising.

The West Highland Museum is world famous for its Jacobite exhibitions and has built up an important collection since the museum’s inception in 1922.

In 1925, the museum held its first major public exhibition dedicated to the Jacobites and established itself as a Jacobite museum.


Chairman of the museum board of directors, Ian Peter MacDonald, pictured, said the success of the crowdfunding campaign demonstrated that the museum was at the heart of the community. NO F47 West Highland Museum


Extra pic:

The portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie painted when an older man in exile in Rome.

NO F47 BPC Rome