Portrait Of Margaret Broun, Lady Colstoun C.1700, Oil Painting, Ancient Manor House Provenance flag

Object description :

"Portrait Of Margaret Broun, Lady Colstoun C.1700, Oil Painting, Ancient Manor House Provenance"
Portrait of Margaret Broun, Lady Colstoun, in a Parkland c.1700; Ancient UK Manor House Provenance
Circle of Godfrey Kneller (1646-1723)

This work formed part of a collection of family pictures and heirlooms of the ancient Broun (Brown) family at Colstoun House, Scotland’s oldest family home.  Colstoun was the seat of the family for over 900 years ever since the first stone was laid, shortly after arriving in Britain during the Norman Conquest.  The portrait passed through several generations at Colstoun before it was sold, along with other family heirlooms in 1990.  Through this portrait, collectors have a chance to acquire a piece of British history and an evocative vestige of a glittering way of life, which has now vanished; the work is a charming example of portraiture from the period. 

The sitter was born Margaret Bannatyne, Lady Newhall in 1672.  She was the only daughter, and heiress, of James Bannatyne of Newhall (born c.1645).  On 10th March 1688 Lady Newhall married Robert Broun, 19th Laird of Colstoun (1667-1703) from the neighbouring estate.  The couple had five girls (accounts show that Lady Colstoun took them to be educated in Edinburgh) and two boys.  Her husband was the younger son of Sir Patrick Broun, 1st Baronet of Coulston, and by marrying Margaret, an heiress, Laird Robert was able to purchase the ancient Colstoun estates from his brother, Sir George Broun of Colstoun, in 1699 when he was forced to sell them due to gambling debts. This enabled Coulston to be rescued for the family but it meant that the Newhall estates had to be sold.

Lady Colstoun was to suffer again when Robert, aged 36 years old, and their two sons, died when returning from the Scottish parliament on 31st May 1703 when their carriage overturned into a river on the Colstoun estate; Lady Colstoun was in the carriage but miraculously survived.  The baronetcy passed from Robert’s older brother, Sir George, to a cousin, but the estates devolved to Margaret and her eldest daughter Jean (1688-1751), who married her cousin Charles Broun of Cleghornie, Laird of Cleghornie (born 1674) in 1705. Christian Broun, heiress to Charles Broun, married The 9th Earl of Dalhousie, who among other appointments was governor of Canada 1819-28. Her son was the 10th Earl and only Marquis, and Governor General of India from 1847-56.

On 18th July 1706 Margaret married the Reverend Matthew Reid, Minister of the Gospel at North Berwick (born 1668) and the couple had three boys and one girl.  Reverend Reid died in 1730 and Margaret three years later, presumably at Colstoun, where she was known to have been living.

The most likely date in which the portrait was painted was circa 1699 when the sitter and her husband purchased the Colstoun estate.  An inventory of the Colstoun estate at the time shows a marked improvement both in quantity and quality of items at the house, it is clear that money was available and it would have been a fitting time to have a portrait painted.  Furthermore the age of the sitter in the portrait, and the style of clothing and hair, correspond with this date.

This ancient Clan Broun (or Brown), had close ties to royalty due to their alleged descent from the royal house of France (the clan chief even bears the three golden lilies of France).  In 1073, Walterus Le Brun, a prosperous twelfth century baron, travelled from France to Scotland as the leader of a band of warriors to the aid of King Malcolm of Scotland. From Le Brun came Broun and from Broun came the anglicised version, Brown.  Documented as the progenitor of the Brouns of Colstoun, he was witness to an instrument of the Inquisition of the possessions of the Church of Glasgow, made by David I, Prince (Earl) of Cumberland, in 1116, in the reign of his brother, King Alexander I of Scotland.

Still retained in the family to this day are items such as a Royal Charter issued by King David II – which grants David Broun the land at ‘Segaryston’, by Haddington, in 1358, and a Barony gifted by Mary Queen of Scots two centuries later, ancient documents have been preserved in immaculate condition.  Still bearing the wax seals denoting their royal authors, one carrying the seal of King James VI in 1625 retains the detail of the seal on both sides. There is even a letter from Oliver Cromwell from 1648.  The collection also includes documentation of the Broun family’s time in India, where Christian Broun lived with her husband George Ramsay, the 9th Earl of Dalhousie, while he served as commander-in-chief.

Legend has it that the Colstoun Pear on the estate has a history stretching back to the 13th century when the Brouns were given 'The Pear' by Hugo de Gifford, a wizard by repute.  The Brouns have protected this Pear for centuries.

Our painting, along with other ancestral portraits and paintings, Indo-European furniture, and heirlooms, 784 lots in total, were sold by Sotheby’s in a two-day sale on 21 and 22 May 1990 in order to raise funds to demolish the Victorian wing of Colstoun House and restore the rest of the mansion to its original sixteenth/seventeenth century appearance.  Drawn from the estate of the late Colin Broun-Lindsay, a descendant of Dalhousie, the ''Furniture, Paintings, Watercolours and Prints, Ceramics and Glass, Indian Arms and Armour and Trophies'' were all dispersed.

The painting was inspected first-hand by Professor J Douglas Stewart, Professor in the History of Art, Queen’s University, Canada in the 1980’s – it is included in his book “Sir Godfrey Kneller and the English baroque portrait”, published 1983.  

Set in a finely carved and gesso bunch leaf frame and ready to hang.

Sir Godfrey Kneller (1646-1723) was one of the most prominent portrait painters in England at the end of the seventeenth century.  He painted seven British monarchs (Charles II, James II, William III, Mary II, Anne, George I and George II) and in 1715 was the first artist to be made a Baronet.

He was born in Germany but trained in Amsterdam and studied in Italy before moving to England in 1676. Towards the end of the century, after the deaths of Peter Lely and John Riley, Kneller became the leading portrait painter in Britain and the court painter to English and British monarchs from Charles II to George I.  He ran a large, busy and successful studio in London and employed many assistants thereby establishing a routine that enabled a great number of works to be produced.  His name became synonymous with British portraiture at the time and he rose to great notoriety; and there were countless other artists that strove to emulate his style.  He died of a fever in London in 1723 and a memorial was erected in Westminster Abbey.

Margaret, Lady Colstoun and by descent within the family at Colstoun House;

Sotheby’s sale 21 and 22 May 1990 

Height 138cm, Width 121cm framed (Height 54.5”, Width 47.75” framed)
Price: 7 950 €
Artist: Entourage De Godfrey Kneller (1646-1723)
Period: 18th century
Style: Louis 14th, Regency
Condition: Excellent condition

Material: Oil painting
Width: 121
Height: 138
Depth: 8

Reference: 1362781
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Portrait Of Margaret Broun, Lady Colstoun C.1700, Oil Painting, Ancient Manor House Provenance
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