History of painting to be told at festival

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The extraordinary story behind a famous Aberdeenshire picture will be revealed at the Aboyne and Deeside Festival later this month.

‘Dinner at Haddo House’ by Alfred Emslie records a visit to the National Trust for Scotland property by the Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone in September 1884.

Simon Welfare, who will be giving an illustrated talk about the painting at the festival, described the picture as “Wonderful.”

Mr. Welfare, a television producer from Tarland, said:

“It’s not surprising that a postcard of it has long been a best seller at the National Portrait Gallery’s shop.

“I’ve known it since I first came up to Haddo as a teenager, and when I heard that it was returning home I decided to research the story behind it.

“‘To my surprise no one knew much about the painting’s history, so I had toturn detective and soon found myself following a trail of clues full of startling and amusing twists and turns.

“It’s a story about art, Victorian High Society, politics, grand designs, family folklore, Aberdeenshire people and the power of friendship, illusions and place.

‘I hope the people who come to my talk will find it as fascinating as I do and that they will enjoy hearing about the colourful characters I encountered on my way.

“They include Vincent Van Gogh, American Civil War General ‘Fightin’ Joe’ Hooker and the man who led the hunt for Jack the Ripper.

“I was thrilled the other day to see the painting hanging in the room that it depicts and I hope my talk will encourage people to go to Haddo and see the picture for themselves, along with all the other wonderful treasures of the house.’

Dinner at Haddo House, 1884, an illustrated talk by Simon Welfare, is on Monday 27 July, 7.30 p.m. in the Aboyne Community Theatre.

Tickets available online at www.aboyneanddeesidefestival.org.uk or by phone on 03336 663366.

Full details of all the events at this years Aboyne and Deeside Festival are available at www.aboyneanddeesidefestival.org.uk.

Anyone wishing to get in touch with the organisers should email info@aboyneanddeesidefestival.org.uk or visit the office in Aboyne.