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National Galleries of Scotland acquires long lost painting of Bonnie Prince Charlie

A long lost painting of Bonnie Prince Charlie has been acquired by the National Galleries of Scotland. It portrays the Young Pretender during the ill-fated Jacobite Rising of 1745 and is through the be only one painted in Britain during his lifetime. The National Galleries of Scotland spent two years in negotiations. The painting is now the centrepiece of a display of Jacobite art treasures that had been largely unseen for more than 250 years. The painting was created at Holyrood Palace by Allan Ramsay in October 1745 and was part of the private art collection of Gosford House, the historic seat of the Earls of Wemyss and March. A letter was discovered summoning the painter Ramsay to paint the Prince’s portrait and a black and white photograph of the painting was found in an archive. It was discovered through detective work by art historian Dr. Bendor Grosvenor.

The painting is valued at more than £1.1 million and has now gone on display at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh, just weeks before the 270th anniversary of the Battle of Culloden, where the Young Pretender was defeated and forced to flee into exile. The portrait shows the prince turning to confront the viewer. He is wearing a powdered wig, a velvet robe fringed with ermine and the blue riband and star of the Order of the Garter.

The painting was donated to the National Galleries of Scotland through a scheme which allows majors works to be transferred to public ownership instead of paying inheritance tax, at no cost to museums and galleries.

Bonnie Prince Charlie, or Charles Edward Stuart, was the son of Maria Klementyna Sobieska and James Francis Edward Stuart, who was the son of the deposed James II and Mary of Modena. He fathered two illegitimate children while in exile, but his marriage to Princess Louise of Stolberg-Gedern produced no issue.

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