The Inner Life of Empires website is deeply grateful to Sir Raymond Johnstone for permission to feature remarkable paintings of the Johnstone family and their home at Alva. The paintings are in Sir Raymond’s possession and have not been exhibited publicly.
"I own it is my wish to fix my wandering feet on some speck of Earth I could call my own," John Johnstone wrote to his brother James in 1769, and the estate of Alva in the Ochil Hills is where he settled. The paintings show two views from Alva House, and the Keeper’s Cottage. John’s son James Raymond Johnstone lived at Alva after his father’s death in 1795, and another painting shows James Raymond’s many descendants, in 1824. As John’s grand-daughter, the historian of Etruria Elizabeth Caroline Gray wrote of Alva, “All the old drawing room furniture [was] thick Indian yellow satin covered with velvet Gods or Goddesses,” with “magnificent India China,” and a “rare library” with “Indian correspondence upon vellum powdered with gold & silver.”