A intriguing painting with links back to the Jacobites at Culloden will come up for auction in Inverbervie on Thursday.
Mystery surrounds Inverbervie native Sir James Napier (1711-99), who fought with the Jacobites at Culloden and somehow escaped lethal persecution to become physician to George III and Inspector General of His Majesty’s Hospitals in North America.
During the Seven Years War (1756-1753) /French and Indian War (1754-1763) Napier was director of General Braddock‘s Army’s General Hospital in Virginia.
And that, in a nutshell, is all we know about the gentleman, says auctioneer David Smith of Bervie Auctions.
The portrait is by an unknown artist and has suffered slight damage on the canvas.
Nonetheless, it’s attracting attention already, undoubtedly due to its Culloden connections.
Mr Smith said: “We’ve estimated it at between £600 and £800, but it’s a total stab in the dark.
“Napier is something of a mystery.
“A painting of him appeared on the Antiques Roadshow, and even expert Philip Mold had to admit little is known of his life.”
The painting’s provenance is assured, coming from the same house where it has been held for 200 years.
The sellers can’t be revealed, but Mr Smith says the family is connected to Sir James Napier.
From the same house, unsigned portraits of a Captain Wilkie and his wife from around 1806 are also appearing at the auction.
Mr Smith said: “Again, we don’t know much about Captain Wilkie, but they are charming portraits and I want to sell the two together because they are husband and wife.
“There is a link between the Wilkies and the Napiers, as we have discovered that Anna Wilkie was the sister of Sir James Napier.”
He estimates £600 to £800 for the pair.
The sellers of the paintings are also offering a pristine late-Victorian Seaforth Highlanders officer’s silver plaid brooch by Kirkwood, Edinburgh, in its original box, which Mr Smith estimates at around £800; and an impressive collection of dark Mauchline Tartanware.
Mr Smith said: “It includes a most unusual box with a portrait of opera singer Zaré Thalberg on it.
“It’s a regular mixed auction on Thursday but the auction room will look like a little museum.”