£60k Hawick painting will soon be returning to its ancestral home
A portrait of the first Earl of Minto which has been housed in Edinburgh for almost half a century is finally returning to its “ancestral home”.
Members of Hawick Common Good Fund Sub-Committee yesterday, Tuesday, March 15, rubber-stamped the transfer of a portrait of Scottish diplomat Sir Gilbert Elliot (1751 – 1814), a former Viceroy of India, by English artist George Chinnery (1774 – 1852), to the Old Dairy in Minto.
The transfer of the painting from the National Galleries of Scotland, where it has been stored since 1975, has the support of town councillors and the current Earl of Minto.
The campaign for its return was launched after it was recognised as belonging to Hawick Common Good Fund, with the portrait valued by Christies at between £30,000 to £50,000, with a suggested insurance value of £60k.
Town councillors viewed the proposed new location in Minto and agreed it was appropriate.
A legal team drafted a loan agreement between the Earl of Minto and Hawick Common Good Fund, detailing acceptable conditions and access arrangements.
Additionally, the Earl of Minto has also agreed to cover the cost of the insurance.
Councillor George Turnbull welcomed the portrait’s imminent return, saying: “It’s been a long journey but this is very good and very positive.”
Councillor Watson McAteer thanked Ian Brown and others in the team at Scottish Borders Council for ensuring the painting’s homecoming, adding: “The painting is returning to its ancestral home. I was very impressed with the Earl of Minto and his commitment, particularly at allowing people to go and view the painting.
“The situation is absolutely marvellous, it couldn’t be better and there has been a lot of collaborative work to resolve what was quite a difficult situation in everybody’s best interests.”
Councillor Clair Ramage added: “When we were first told it was going into a dairy we had all sorts of images, maybe not all of them good, but I was very impressed. It’s going to a good home.”
It is believed the portrait was initially produced as an East Indian Company commission in Calcutta in 1811 and shipped back to Britain three years later and hung in Minto House.
Later the portrait was hung on the main staircase at Hawick Town Hall but in 1964 it was noted that the painting’s frame was badly infested with woodworm.
In 1975, concern for the painting’s safe-keeping led Roxburgh District Council agreeing for its transfer to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery on a long-term loan.