Every picture tells a story

Whilst on holiday we visited a couple of antique outlets, one of them on our last day in Lancashire. We always try to visit this one when we’re back in that part of the world and we’ve had some nice things from there over the years. On this occasion it was a painting, or, more accurately, an etching. It caught both our eyes because it was a portrait of a Scottish gentleman from way back when. We thought that it was perfect for Skye; a ponderous old crofter, conjuring up some scheme to screw yet MORE money out of the government whilst enjoying a wee dram! How wrong we were!


Below the etching is written: etched by Léon Richeton after J. Pettie R.A. followed by what looks like a small doodle of a little girl in a bonnet.
Too enticing for words so we just had to check the internet for both names! Kevin got the bit between his teeth and soon discovered a site, The Orchar Collection, displaying an identical etching along with a big surprise!

The scene depicts the aging Rob Roy (1671-1734) and is taken from a painting by John Pettie (location unknown). It was likely inspired by Pettie’s, and Orchar’s, interest in the novels of Sir Walter Scott and the growing interest in Scottish Romanticism and History. Orchar and Pettie were close friends

If you do take a minute to view the Orchar website, then you’ll notice that the portrait shown also has a ‘doodle’ (or remarque), this time also showing a man’s face and a curious oval shape.

The Remarque portraits of a girl and a man are unidentified although it is possible that the male is a self-portrait of Richeton. The odd, egg-shaped object at the far left is a mystery. The name ‘J.Pettie’ is included in print at bottom right. Below the print (beside Remarque) ‘etched by Léon Richeton after J. Pettie R.A.’The Remarque portraits and signature look to have been printed rather than added in graphite.

It is likely that this print was the one exhibited at the Dundee Fine Art Exhibition, Albert Institute, 1879 (West Gallery, No. 1159) and either already in Orchar’s collection or subsequently bought by him.

Needless to say, seeing an etching the same as ours piqued our interest even more. So much so that Kevin emailed a Dr William Rough, Teaching Fellow at the School of Art History, University of St Andrews, explaining our finding of the portrait, our small amount of research so far and would he have any further information about the portrait. This was his reply…

Dear Kevin and Christine,

Thank you for your email. It is an interesting piece and I’d suggest it probably is quite rare.

The Remarque portraits are usually added to the prints to mark them out as quite rare during the printing process. So it would seem likely that your print was completed before the one in the Orchar Collection. Beyond that I don’t have that much more information on your specific print I’m afraid. You could contact the British Museum as may the Victoria & Albert Print Department. The Fine Art Trade Guild may also be able to provide some information.

As to value I’m afraid I can’t help you. Even rare prints are often not that expensive but a good printseller will be able to give you a valuation should you require one.

I hope this has helped!

Best wishes

Dr William Rough

Dr Rough was duly thanked for his kind response and that we hadn’t expected the etching to be of any significant value as we only paid £20 for it! His almost immediate response was:


I think £20 is a very good price! It really is a beautiful image.”

Moving forward in time, one portrait about which I know all there is to know is ‘Sammy’. I showed you his beginnings before we went to visit family and now he is complete, heading to Germany tomorrow to his rightful owners!



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2 Responses to “Every picture tells a story”

  1. kathryningrid Says:

    What a delightful find and discovery! And a marvelous, character-full portrait of Sammy!!!

    • garybuie01 Says:

      Oh it was Kathryn! It was great fun playing detective for a while! Thanks for your comment on Sammy too.

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