ONFife is delighted to have acquired a striking painting by one of Fife’s greatest painters.

The oil on canvas was purchased in December at auction, with funding assistance from both the National Fund for Acquisitions and Art Fund.

The Song of Silenus, by Sir Joseph Noel Paton depicts Silenus, a companion of the god Dionysus in Greek mythology. He is surrounded by assorted satyrs, followers of the god, in a forest scene. Although a small artwork it is crammed with activity and has a glimpse in the background of distant mountains.

The West Fife-born artist was one of Scotland’s leading Victorian artists. His stature was recognised when he was chosen by Queen Victoria to take on the role of Queen’s Limner – which made him part of the Royal Household – and was knighted in 1878. His artistic output took several forms and subjects ranged from themes taken from classical mythology, religion and history. He won prizes for two fairy paintings: The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania and The Reconciliation of Oberon and Titania, both in the National Galleries of Scotland. He was also commissioned to illustrate literary works including The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley.

ONFife has been building up a significant body of artworks by Paton in recent years, through purchase at auction and generous donations from descendants of the Paton family. However, the collection only contained two of his oil paintings and the recent purchase also fills a gap as none of his classical mythological scenes were represented in the collection.

The Song of Silenus will be displayed next year in a major exhibition of Sir Joseph Noel Paton’s work to mark the bicentenary of his birth. The exhibition planned by ONFife will take place in the multi award-winning Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries in 2021.