A family estrangement lasting more than a century has come to an end after a portrait was returned to Fyvie Castle and put on display by the National Trust for Scotland.
The glamorous painting of Lorna Marsali was commissioned in 1913 by her grandmother, Lady Leith of Fyvie, from acclaimed painter – and family friend – Philip Alexius de László.
It had been intended to be hung at the castle, adding to the impressive collection of family portraits, including a famous one of Colonel William Gordon by Batoni and one of her mother. Ethel.
Lorna though married an Army captain in 1916 which was deemed unsuitable by the family and led to her estrangement. So the work was never put on display at the stately home and remained in her own family instead.
It is thought it graced the walls of Fishleigh House and Thorpe Mandeville Manor where she lived, before she passed it to her own granddaughter.
Now though, a century on, Lorna and Ethel have been reunited, at least in art form.
Vikki Duncan, curator for NTS in the north-east said: “After more than 100 years, the painting is a wonderful asset to Fyvie Castle and it is lovely for us to see mother and daughter reunited after so long.
“Although imposing and elegant, Fyvie was still a family home, and we know that family relationships can be complex. It seems that Lorna and her mother Ethel were, eventually, able to reconcile their differences. By placing their portraits together, within the immediate family grouping, it highlights a tale of love, loss and reconciliation that resonates with us all and illustrates that the stories of the past are still very relevant today.
“The charity is very grateful for the support of our generous funders who made this homecoming possible.”
The painting was purchased at an auction in 2020 with support from the Art Fund and the National Fund for Acquisitions.
Hazel Williamson, National Fund for Acquisitions manager, said: “We are really delighted to support the acquisition of this beautiful portrait of Lorna Marsali by the acclaimed artist Philip Alexius de László.
“Finally, the portrait will be returned to the home for which it was intended, enabling NTS to reunite the Leith family at Fyvie Castle.”