The Fingask Follies Subscription Mural

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Follies Mural at Fingask Castle
Ivan Govorkov
This extraordinary mural dominates the main stairs of the Castle
Elena Gubanova

Fingask Castle is home to what is believed to be the only active subscription mural in Britain, possibly Europe, possibly the world! Begun in 2003 the ongoing picture by Ivan Govorkov and Elena Gubanova of St. Petersburg is designed to raise money for the Fingask Follies.

Fingask mural

It curently features 44 people, the North wind, a kind of anonymous patron playing Orpheus being assassinated by harpies, 6 dogs, a cat, a book and a Bentley. Why not joint the merry throng? Add yourself or a loved one to the mural (£2,000) and you will receive a copy of the portrait on canvas to hang at home. Or a cheaper option would be to add your favourite pet, motor car or book. In 2010 we are planning a trompe l’oeuil book case – be the first to go on the shelves as a book or bust.

Fingask mural

Historically subscription portraits, like subscription concert cycles, were means by which institutions raised money, from members or subscribers, while producing something possibly of historic, artistic or anthropological value. The best known example was Rembrandt's 'Night Watch'. Men of the night watch paid money into the watch coffers, and a portion of the money went to pay Rembrandt, while the watch share went to help them in their good work of keeping the
streets safe. An engraved copy of the original image could be taken and prints made to sell to the subscribers and a wider circle. We follow this erstwhile tradition by giving our patrons a copy of their portrait to take home. The Follies receive no government subsidy. It is only by the kind donation of patrons, and enthusiasts that this original, annual review can keep going. We think the subscription mural is a proper way of honouring their help.

Examples of other subscription portraits:

Charles Lees, RSA (1800-1880): The Royal Caledonian Curling Club at Linlithgow of 1853, had 48 subscribers, ranging from Sir George Clerk, Bart, of Penicuick curling club, via Sir Patrick Murray Threipland, Esq of Fingask curling club, to Robert Craig, Esq, of Dalkeith curling club.

Charles Lees, RSA: The Golfers, A grand match played over St. Andrews Links, 1850.

Henry Jamyn Brooks (1865-1925): Private View of the Old Masters Exhibition, Royal Academy, 1888, 1889, 60 x 160 in.

Henry Jamyn Brooks: Polo at Hurlingham, 1890, 90 x 50 in.

Henry Jamyn Brooks: The first meeting og the London County Council in the County Hall Spring Gardens, 1889, 368 x 190 cms.

Andrew Festing: The house of Lords debating The Queen’s Speech in 1995 (unveiled December 1998), which now hangs in the Lord’s Library corridor.

Benjamin Ferrers: The Court of Chancery during the reign of George I, c.1725, 30 x 25 in.

Gawen Hamilton: A conversation of Virtuosis…at the Kings Arms, 1735, 35 x 44 in.

Johann Zoffany: The Sharp Family, oil on canvas, 1779-1781, 45.5 x 49.5 in. (a fine family group).