The gilt and gesso painted pine exhibit nameplate label from the original oil painting of 'The Imprisonment of Mary Queen of Scots at Lochleven Castle' by Alfred Barron Clay (1831 -1868) painted in 1857 and exhibited in 1861, the plaque reading an exert from Sir Walter Scott’s Waverley Novels, The Abbot; in gothic script; "Lady Lochleven, turned towards the casement, and at that moment forgetting her charge; Ronald Graeme, held the forged keys under his cloak, and with great dexterity ex-changed them for the real ones."
The condition of the plaque is as you would expect of a piece that is over a century and a half old with a smattering of small losses and chips and a very evocative wear to the typeface which has been polished back to its original surface in many areas.
The very large picture (109.22 x 142.24 cm) that this nameplate comes from was last sold at Bonhams in Chelsea in 1998 for a £3000 hammer price and we are unsure as to whether a new plaque was commissioned for the painting out of choice or whether this one was lost, perhaps when it was reframed.
The Waverley Novels are a long series of novels by Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832). The Abbot is a novel that takes place between July 1567 and May 1568, spanning the imprisonment of Mary Queen of Scots at Lochleven, her enforced abdication, her escape from the Castle, defeat at Langside and subsequent flight to England. The events covered in the novel seal the triumph of the Protestant, pro-English party in England and ultimately pave the way to the Union of the English and Scottish Crowns under a Protestant monarch.
Alfred Barron Clay, history painter was born June 3. 1831, at Wafton-le- Dale, near Preston. He became strongly attached to the study of art, and though discouraged by his parents, he managed quietly to persevere in the pursuit, and when the question arose of further arrangements for his continuance in the law, he was resolutely opposed, anxious that some test should be made of his pre- tensions in art; and with this view he painted his mother's portrait, and upon the favourable opinions expressed he was sent to Liverpool, where he commenced his studies in the spring of 1852, and in the autumn of the same year came to London, and was admitted to the schools of the Royal Academy. In 1855 he first exhibited at the Academy, sending portraits of his father and his sister, and their success decided his career. From that time he was a regular contributor. He painted several subjects from Scottish history, thrice exhibiting ' The Imprisonment of Mary Queen of Scots.’ From which this plaque is from. In 1864 he exhibited Charles IX. and the French Court at the Massacre of St. Bartholomew ; ' in 1865, ' The Hugue- not ; ' and in 1867, his most important work, ' The Return of Charles II. to Whitehall in 1660.' His health gave way at this time, in spite of every effort, and he gradually sunk, dying at Rainhill, near Liverpool, at the beginning of a career of much promise, October 1, 1868. His 'Mary, Queen of Scots, when a Prisoner, mending an old Tapestry,' was exhibited at Suffolk Street in the spring of that year.
This is a nice little curio of art history, an affordable fragment of British history painting and a decorative little object to boot.