Queen Victoria: Dunfermline artist Sir Joseph Noel Paton has works on display at the museum next to the abbey
A DUNFERMLINE BORN artist who rose to prominence as Queen Victoria’s favorite painter will have his work on display at the Kings Resting Place.
Rarely seen designs by Sir Joseph Noel Paton, who were models for a stained glass window in Dunfermline Abbey, will soon be appreciated by a whole new audience.
Nine Bible-themed works by Queen Victoria’s Royal Limner – the artistic equivalent of the Poet Laureate – are due to be restored for an upcoming exhibition that will mark Paton’s 200th birthday.
His drawings of the Last Supper and the Resurrection were transformed into scenes that adorn the McLaren window of the Abbey, where eight kings and four queens are buried.
Conservators will clean, repair and frame the drawings – each two and a half meters high and 70 centimeters wide – in preparation for the show, which will open at OnFife’s Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries in 2023.
This will be the first major exhibition dedicated to one of the greatest artists of the Victorian era, who enjoyed great popularity during his lifetime.
Barriers were often needed to control crowds when the work of the Dunfermline-born artist was on display.
A New York Times obituary described Paton as Queen Victoria’s favorite artist, and the monarch reportedly said Paton painted “such beautiful pictures.”
Among them, ‘In Memoriam’, a tender portrait of the Queen and her family, after the death of Prince Albert.
Paton’s 200th birthday is December 13, but COVID-19 has delayed the exhibition, which will showcase the cartoons – known as “cartoons” – for the first time.
The McLaren window, completed in 1904 – three years after Paton’s death – was his last order.
The cartoons are one of a series of 12, but the fate of the other three is unknown.
Specialists from the Scottish Conservation Studio at Hopetoun House completed work on five of the drawings. Funding is now being sought to keep the other four.
The designs are in the custody of OnFife and, starting next month, two of the designs can be viewed by appointment at the OnFife Collections Center in Glenrothes.
Paintings and drawings inspired by biblical scenes, classical mythology and Scottish folklore will be featured in the 2023 exhibit.
This is the opportunity to admire the naturalistic style of Paton, strongly influenced by his friend John Everett Millais, the Pre-Raphaelite painter.
The show will also feature diaries, personal items and correspondence, including letters sent to Paton by Millais and Queen Victoria’s private secretary, General Charles Gray.
Gavin Grant, OnFife Collections Team Leader, said: “We are delighted with the progress that has been made.
“When we finally see the nine drawings together for the first time, in Noel Paton’s hometown, it will be a magnificent sight.”
Exhibition curator Lesley Lettice added: “This retrospective will provide a unique insight into Noel Paton as an artist and as a man, bringing together paintings from museums across Scotland and on private loans from members of the family, including photographs and drawings.
Work on three of the drawings was supported by a grant from the Gordon Fraser Charitable Trust’s Paper Conservation Fund.