Antique 19th-century Painting on Pith, Longwood Napoleon's Residence St Helena

An original 19th-century watercolour painting on pith, Longwood Napoleon's Residence St Helena.

This unusual watercolour on pith depicts Napoleon's tomb, which is now one of the Seven Wonders of St Helena. Western-style figures can be seen observing the tomb.  Napoleon asked in his will to be buried on the banks of the Seine, but the British Governor Hudson Lowe, insisted he should be buried on St Helena, in the Valley of the Willows (now Sane Valley). It is likely that the pith paper was acquired in its native China by a European collector, and was then painted on location in St Helena in a European style.

On pith laid down on backing paper.

There is a horizontal crack across the pith as shown, as some further minor vertical hairline cracks and light abrasions.
14.9cm x 22.9cm.

This work forms part of a fascinating collection once owned by a Scottish landed family. The collection evidences connections with a number of aristocratic families, principally that of James Hay Esq (1771-1822) and Lady Mary Ramsay.

The collection includes works by family members, paintings of Scottish country houses, and also pictures from Commonwealth nations, including India, South Africa and St Helena. The family likely had naval and East India Company connections. The variety of pictures in the collection is fascinating, and there is even an original signature by the Scottish novelist and poet Sir Walter Scott. The collection was accompanied by photos and ephemera (see photograph) which give an insight into the family’s naval and aristocratic connections.

James Hay was part of the Hay of Pitfour family, Perthshire. He married Lady Mary Ramsay, daughter of the Earl of Dalhousie, Midlothian, and they had twelve children. When Lady Mary Ramsay was prematurely widowed, she and the family lived at Linden Lodge, the gatehouse to Mavisbank House, Midlothian.

The collection includes pictures by members of the Hay family, including Elizabeth Hay (1802-1828), Georgina Christian Hay (b.1810) and William Edmund Hay (b.1805). William Edmund was lieutenant in the European regiment at Bengal, and major of brigade at Agra, which possibly accounts for the Indian pictures in the collection. Two of the Hay children married into Mavisbank: Catherine married Graeme Reid Mercer and Caroline married George Clerk Arbuthnot. A further daughter, Mary, married John Richardson Esq of Pitfour at Dalhousie Grange. The strong and various aristocratic connections in the family accounts for some of the pictures’ subjects: there are intimate paintings of Mavisbank House and Pitfour Castle amongst others.

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Product code: JC-769

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