Remember him? Mungo Park, we have been told, discovered the River Niger. He later died in 1806 at Bussa, in the present day Kainji Reservoir, north central Nigeria, and his remains buried along the banks of the River Niger in Jebba.
However, the woman who gave birth to Park has been seen in what a historian described as “a previously unknown oil painting portrait.”
Park’s mother, Elspeth Hislop’s portrait, according to a Scottish media organisation, Southern Reporter, has been in the family of Chris Odling, who lives on the Seil Island, near Oban, for generations.
|Portrait of Park's mother, by William Yellowlees (1796-1855)|
The source said a Scottish Art Historian, “Walter Elliot brought the painting to the attention of TheSouthern after being contacted by a Denholm resident, Jimmy Steel.”
And here is the provenance: “Mr Odling said he is a very distant relation of Mungo Park.
‘I am related to him in a very tenuous way. I don’t really know much more about the painting other than what is written on the reverse, which states that it was given ‘to our mother’ by Miss Jane Park Thomson, whose father was a cousin of the explorer.
‘I am not sure what it means by ‘our mother’, but the portrait has been in my mother’s side of my family for a very long time.’
It was noted that Nichol Park is the great-great-great-nephew of Mungo Park. “Nichol, who by quirky coincidence lives at Mungo Park Court in the town, had never seen the portrait.
“It was very interesting to see what Mungo’s mother looked like – I never knew any painting of her existed.”
Elliot, it was added, believed the “discovery is exciting because it is the only one known to exist of Elspeth Hislop, who is buried in Gala Aisle cemetery, Galashiels.”
Elliot, according to the source said “the portrait is by William Yellowlees, known to his contemporaries as “the Little Raeburn, named after a great Scottish painter, Sir Henry Raeburn.”
Born at Mellerstain in 1796, Yellowlees worked in Edinburgh as a portrait painter for 15 years before moving to London, where his patrons included Prince Albert.
Mungo Park was born in the family home at Foulshiels in the Yarrow Valley in 1771.