Highlands & Islands

'Flora MacDonald portrait' found in Florida

Painting thought to be of Flora Macdonald Image copyright Mike Merritt
Image caption The portrait's owner believes it was painted by Edinburgh-born Allan Ramsay

A previously unknown 18th-century painting of Flora MacDonald may have been unearthed by an art enthusiast in the US.

MacDonald famously helped Bonnie Prince Charlie evade capture after his defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 1746.

Raphael Jorge bought the oil painting from an art gallery in Florida.

The signature on the work - A Ramsay - suggests the artist was Edinburgh-born Allan Ramsay, whose portraits included paintings of South Uist-born MacDonald.

Another clue to suggest that the painting is of MacDonald is a white rose, a symbol of Prince Charlie and his followers, which adorns her bodice.

Mr Jorge bought the painting for £1,000 and is having it professionally restored.

He believes MacDonald may have brought the portrait from Scotland to America.

She emigrated to North Carolina in 1774 with her husband, Allan MacDonald, to run a plantation.

The following year, the American War of Independence broke out between the British government and American colonists.

MacDonald's husband was an officer in the Loyalist forces fighting alongside the British against the Patriots.

A story goes that MacDonald addressed a newly raised unit of Highland Loyalists in Gaelic as they prepared for battle.

She spoke of the loyalty, bravery and sacrifices of Scots.

MacDonald later returned to Scotland. She died in 1790 and was buried in Kilmuir Cemetery on Skye.

Mr Jorge said: "I would go as far as to say this painting was brought over by Flora MacDonald from Scotland to North Carolina.

"She might have given it away, sold it or who knows exactly what transpired."

He added: "I'm completely satisfied with the expert opinions I have that this is a Flora MacDonald portrait by Allan Ramsay from the early 1740s.

"I would like to know the exact year it was made, hopefully one day."

Once restored, Mr Jorge plans to sell the painting.