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21 September 2023

Portrait of Lord Byron by William Edward West now on display at Duff House

The nineteenth-century artist's work will be exhibited until next summer on loan from National Galleries Scotland

Portrait of Lord Byron by William Edward West now on display at Duff House

George Gordon, 6th Lord Byron, 1788 - 1824, a portrait of Lord Byron painted by American artist William Edward West in 1822, is now on display to the public at Duff House in Banff, Aberdeenshire.

The infamous romantic poet Lord Byron (1788-1824) was half-Scottish and spent his early childhood in Aberdeen. He retained a trace of a Scottish accent throughout his life. Byron's complicated relationships had caused a scandal and in 1816 he left Britain forever. At the time of this portrait, he was living in Italy with his lover, Countess Teresa Guiccioli. In 1822 when the painting was being created, the Artist, William Edward West, complained that the poet was a difficult sitter, either restless and over-talkative or silent and self-conscious. Nobody liked the finished work; Teresa said it was a 'frightful caricature'.

William Edward West (1788-1857) made a name for himself as a painter of miniature portraits in his native Kentucky whilst still in his teens. A benefactor financed his studies in Thomas Sully's studio in Philadelphia. He visited Italy in 1819 and stayed in Europe for the next twenty years. In 1825 he moved to London but financial difficulties forced him to go back to America. Washington Irving, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron were among his most celebrated sitters.

Graeme Curran, Monument Manager at Duff House, said:

The annual Masterpiece Loan from National Galleries of Scotland is always a highlight of the year and we are very pleased to host this fine portrait of Lord Byron, who was himself born and raised locally.

“While on display, visitors will be able to take in this artwork by William Edward West, painted during the same period as Duff House's heyday."

The artwork is the latest in a series of paintings to be loaned from the collection of the National Galleries of Scotland and will be on display at Georgian mansion Duff House from Thursday 21 September 2023 to Sunday 25 August 2024. Entry to view the painting is included in the admission price of the guided tour of Duff House, where visitors will also be able to view an exhibition of J.M.W. Turner's illustrations for 'The Poetical Works of Thomas Campbell' until Sunday 24 March 2024. 

About Duff House

Duff House is a masterpiece of baroque architecture and one of the most important buildings in the north of Scotland. It was designed in 1735 by the renowned Scottish architect William Adam and is now a five-star visitor attraction, run in partnership by Historic Environment Scotland, the National Galleries of Scotland and Aberdeenshire Council.

About Historic Environment Scotland (HES) 

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Laura Ely
Historic Environment Scotland Media Office
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