New artwork on loan: Portrait of the Duchess of Atholl

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The Duchess of Atholl by Hamish Constable Paterson (WOA L867) on loan from Perth and Kinross Council

01 February 2019

From January 2019, a portrait of the Duchess of Atholl will be on display in the Palace of Westminster. The artwork, on loan from Perth and Kinross Council, shows the first Scottish woman MP.

 

The portrait, by Scottish artist Hamish Constable Paterson (1890–1955), shows the Duchess as a working MP surrounded by business papers and seated by a telephone at home.
 

Katherine Stewart-Murray, Duchess of Atholl


Katherine 'Kitty' Stewart-Murray, Duchess of Atholl (1874-1960) began her political career in Scottish politics as a campaigner in the anti-suffrage league. Despite her early opposition to women's suffrage she became the fifth woman elected to Parliament and was the first Scottish woman to be elected, she represented Kinross and West Perthshire as a Scottish Unionist from 1923–38.


In Parliament Stewart-Murray emerged as an independent figure often voting against her party. She resigned the party whip over a number of contentious issues, including the Government of India Act 1935, and lost the whip in 1938 for opposing Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's policy of appeasement, even distributing English translations of 'Mein Kampf' to prompt fellow MPs into action.


In 1937 Stewart-Murray travelled to Spain to witness first-hand the effects of the Spanish Civil War as part of an all-female delegation with Labour MP Ellen Wilkinson and Independent MP Eleanor Rathbone. Stewart-Murray published an account of the conflict in her well received book 'Searchlight on Spain' (1938), which earned her the nick-name the 'Red Duchess'.


Prompted by her staunch political views Stewart-Murray resigned her seat later in 1938 forcing a by-election in protest at the signing of the Munich Agreement.   Running as an Independent, Stewart-Murray was defeated by the official Conservative candidate.  She did not stand again but took up war work and then European politics in which she remained active until her death.

 

Image: The Duchess of Atholl by Hamish Constable Paterson (WOA L867) on loan from Perth and Kinross Council

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Works of Art (Speaker's Advisory Committee)

The Speaker's Advisory Committee on Works of Art is appointed by the Speaker to advise on matters relating to works of art in the House of Commons