Historic paintings are being brought back to their former glory after a £60,000 donation was to an Aberdeen uni made to repair them.
The cash was given to Aberdeen University by alumna Anne Harper to restore the King’s Paintings.
Over time these became known as the Black Paintings due to the wear and tear that has obscured them. The artwork is believed to date back to the 1600s.
Each of the pieces includes a scene from the Old Testament – including David and Goliath, David and Abigail, The Judgement of Solomon, Solomon and the Queen of Sheba and Jephthah and his Daughter.
Although they found a home at Aberdeen University, it is unclear where they originally came from and how they came to be in the university’s possession.
Research was carried out by the university’s history of art department. Professor John Morrison and Dr Mary Pryor’s work suggests that they were created as “confrontational warnings” directed at King Charles II by the Scottish Covenanters during a time of significant political unrest.
The five paintings were stored at King’s College Chapel, but were moved to Elphinstone Hall in the early 2000s. The university is thought to have had them from the 1800s.
Since then, they have been hidden away from view, and have only made a few brief public appearances.
With the donation, the paintings are now being restored at The WASPS Factory in Glasgow, and are expected to return to Aberdeen later this year.
Each of the pieces is being fully restored by a team of experts to shed the “Black Paintings” moniker and give them a new lease of life.
Once they are brought back to the city, they are to be displayed in the Sir Duncan Rice Library.
The cash has also funded a new lighting system, which will allow the artwork to be displayed properly.
The benefactor discovered the paintings while attending the university as an undergraduate in the 1970s.
After the former head librarian at the Sir Duncan Rice Library, Diane Bruxvoort, offered to display the King’s Paintings in the main library, Anne was prompted to make her generous donation.
She said: “I first knew about the paintings when I was an undergraduate from 1969 to 1973 when they were hung in King’s College Chapel. I later found out that they had been moved to Elphinstone Hall, where they were completely hidden behind curtains.
“At a dinner in Elphinstone Hall I tried to show the paintings to a group of visiting art historians by lifting a corner of the curtain and using a table lamp.
“That’s when I thought there had to be a better way for people to be able to see them.
“These paintings will make a stunning addition to the library, and I’m looking forward to seeing them returned to their former glory.”
Two of the paintings are going to be readied for display by the end of the year, with the other three following later, once they have been restored.
It is hoped that all five of the paintings will be back in Aberdeen and on display next year.