16 August 2022
The West Highland Museum in Fort William celebrates its centenary with an exhibition of portraits depicting the Royal House of Stuart in exile.
The museum has been offered exclusive access to a private collection of rare royal portraiture owned by the Pininski Foundation, Liechtenstein. Other paintings on display have been loaned by art historian Dr Bendor Grosvenor and John Nicholls MBE and include a painting by Allan Ramsay from the museum’s own collection.
The exhibition will include sixteen 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 paintings ends with Charlotte’s daughter Princess Marie Victorie de Rohan.
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These paintings illustrate the family which inspired Jacobites to risk so much to pursue this ‘affair of the heart’.
A recent re-discovery
The paintings have never before been displayed together in the United Kingdom 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 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 which pre-dates the 1745 Jacobite Rising. The painting was first publicly displayed for a month at the National Museum of Scotland in 2019. This will be a rare opportunity to see these paintings and to hear the story of the exiled Jacobites.
The recently rediscovered painting of sixteen-year-old Prince Charles Edward Stuart, by Rosalba Carriera
Curator Manager, Vanessa Martin, said “The museum is world famous for its Jacobite material culture 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. The Jacobite Rising started here in Lochaber with Prince Charles Edward Stuart raising his father’s Standard at Glenfinnan on 19 August 1745 to instigate the beginning of the last Jacobite Rising. For our centenary we have been offered this wonderful opportunity by the Pininski Foundation and other lenders to present a public exhibition of rarely displayed royal portraiture.”
West Highland Museum, Cameron Square, Fort William PH33 6AJ; tel: 01397 702169; website.