A Highlands museum has launched a last-ditch bid to bring paintings of Bonnie Prince Charlie and his exiled family back to Scotland for one last time.
Portraits of Charles Edward Stuart, the leader of the failed Jacobite uprising of 1745, and other members of his family spanning fourteen generations are hoped to visit the West Highland Museum in Fort William.
But the museum is appealing to the public to help fund the transfer of the paintings from the private collection of the Pininski Foundation in Lichtenstein.
If the bid is successful, it will likely be the last time the 14 paintings are displayed in Scotland, because they are due to go on permanent display at an as-yet unbuilt museum in Poland.
The paintings feature Charles’ father James VIII (the Old Pretender) and his wife Princess Clementina Sobieska, through to the Bonnie Prince himself and his daughter, Charlotte the Duchess of Albany.
The series of paintings ends with Charlotte’s daughter Princess Marie Victorie de Rohan.
Chris Robinson, the West Highland Museum’s director, said £25,000 was required to bring the portraits over, which have never been displayed together in the UK before.
Chris said: “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.”
One piece, a portrait of an elderly Charles painted in Rome by Hugh Douglas Hamilton in 1786, two years before the Young Pretender’s death, was last on display 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 painting was first publicly displayed for a month at the National Museum of Scotland in 2019.
Donors to the museum’s crowdfunder will be rewarded with various prizes for gifts over certain amounts.
A bumper donation of £995 would bag the gifter an exclusive overnight stay in Fort William and an invitation to the champagne launch of the event.
Curator Vanessa Martin said: “The 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.
“The Jacobite Rising started here in Lochaber with Prince Charles Edward Stuart raising his father’s Standard at Glenfinnan on 19 August 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.”
Chair of the museum’s board of directors, Ian Peter MacDonald added: “An exhibition of this calibre and local relevance will bring pride to our community and inspire enthusiasts from all over to come and visit our town.”