The origins of a mysterious portrait are baffling members of a prestigious Aberdeen organisation.
The Society of Advocates in Aberdeen dates back to the early sixteenth century, authorised under various Royal Charters.
Members built the Category A listed Advocates’ Hall and Advocates’ Library – designed by architect James Matthews, with interior by Arthur Clyne – in 1872.
During recent renovation work at the library, a picture of a mysterious German man was unearthed by advocates.
The large, approximately A0 size, photograph of an army officer mounted in an ornate picture frame had been “covered in grime” and forgotten in storage for decades.
It has since been cleaned and, in an attempt to identify the mysterious German man in the portrait, the group has made an appeal to military history experts to help piece together the man’s regiment and rank.
Society president Martin Ewan said: “The Society dates back to the early sixteenth century, so many of the heritage artefacts housed in our archives are much older, but while this picture is more recent, it nonetheless poses a real puzzle.
“We have no idea who the gentleman is, or what his connection to Aberdeen and the Society might have been.”
“It may be that he was an advocate who went abroad to fight for some reason or that he served overseas in a foreign army and then came to Aberdeen to work as a lawyer afterwards.
“The insignia on his uniform has led to speculation that he was in either the German or Austro-Hungarian army.
“His neck collar may also suggest a religious role.
“Whatever his origins, he was clearly a gentleman of note, given the scale of the picture, and we would love to find the link to the Society and the city and uncover this piece of hidden history.
“It’s a pictorial treasure hunt.”
The Society is tentatively dating the picture as late nineteenth- early twentieth century, but there does not appear to be any other evidence to explain its provenance.
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