If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you may recall a post back in January 2012 from one of our volunteers, Chris. He wrote about a portrait of Henry Ramsay-Fairfax Lucy that hangs in our billiard room. It is a painting that visitors often comment on. Well, another of our volunteer Room Guides, Frank, has done some more research on the person who painted it and more…!
The artist was Alfred Edward Borthwick, (born 22nd April 1871) a Scottish painter and second son of William Henry Borthwick, 15th of Crookston. Crookston House in the parish of Stow in the Scottish Borders has been the family seat for centuries. Alfred joined the Scottish Sharpshooters attaining the rank of captain and served in the Boer War and WW1. After leaving the army he devoted his life to painting, being one of the most prominent of Scottish 20th-century artists. He was six times president of the Society of Scottish Artists and in 1931 became president of the Royal Scottish Society of Painters. He died in Edinburgh on 7th December 1955.
In 1942, Borthwick painted the distinctive portrait of Lady Ada Fairfax-Lucy. This painting is now in the Glasgow Museums Resource Centre. I understand that the family lived in Scotland during the war and both the portraits of Sir Henry and Lady Ada were most likely painted there. Although Alfred Borthwick lived in Burnhouse Ayrshire, his family were at Crookston which is but a few miles from Maxton where the Fairfax-Lucys were living during the war years. It is likely that the families were well acquainted with each other.
Could the two portraits have been painted at the same time in 1942? Possibly, but not necessarily.
The styles are different. However, it is worth remembering that in July of that year Sir Henry and Lady Ada celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary.
In Maxton Kirk are the following bronze memorials:-
‘SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF ADA CHRISTINA C-R-FAIRFAX-LUCY BELOVED WIFE OF SIR HENRY W C-R-FAIRFAX-LUCY BT. BORN 23RD APRIL 1866 DIED 17TH DEC 1893. “AT THE GOING DOWN OF THE SUN AND IN THE MORNING WE WILL REMEMBER HER”’
‘SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF COLONEL SIR HENRY W C-R-FAIRFAX-LUCY CB DL JP, 3RD BARONET OF MAXTON. BORN 25TH SEPT 1870 DIED 20TH AUGT 1944’
There are also memorials of them in Benrig Cemetery, St. Boswells where there are the resting places of many of the Ramsays and Fairfaxes.
Frank, Volunteer Room Guide