Joseph Noel Paton

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Joseph Noel Paton, 1866, photograph by Thomas Annan

Sir Joseph Noel Paton FRSA, LL. D. (13 December 1821 – 26 December 1901 Edinburgh) was a Scottish artist.[1]


Joseph Noel Paton by his sister Amelia Robertson Hill 1872
HomeThe Return from the Crimea

He was born in Wooer's Alley, Dunfermline, Fife, to Joseph Neil Paton and Catherine MacDiarmid, damask designers and weavers in the town. He continued the family trade for a short time. He had strong artistic inclinations however and studied briefly at the Royal Academy, London in 1843. He is the brother of Amelia Robertson Hill and Walter Hugh Paton. He also had one brother, Archibald, and two sisters, Catherine and Alexia, who all died in childhood. Sir Joseph erected a monument on the grave of his parents and dead siblings in later life, the grave was probably originally unmarked. It lies on the north side of Dunfermline Abbey and is a distinctive red granite Celtic cross amongst other smaller sandstone [2] He painted in the Pre-Raphaelite style and became a painter of historical, fairy, allegorical and religious subjects.[3]

The first picture to be shown to the public was 'Ruth Gleaning' which was shown at the Royal Scottish Academy in 1844. He won a number of prizes for his work including for two of his most famous works The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania (1846 – exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy) and The Reconciliation of Oberon and Titania (1847 – Westminster Hall), both of which are available to public view at the National Gallery of Scotland.[4] [5]

Made an associate of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1847 and a fellow in 1850. In 1858, he married Margaret Gourlay Ferrier and had seven children (six sons and a daughter), the eldest being Diarmid Noel Paton (1859–1928) who became a regius professor of physiology in Glasgow in 1906. His second son Frederick Noel Paton (b. 1861) was to become director of commercial intelligence to the government of India (1905). In 1865, he was appointed Queen's Limner for Scotland. He also published two volumes of poetry and produced a number of sculptures. Two years later he received the knighthood and in 1878 was conferred the degree LL.D by the University of Edinburgh.[6][7]

Paton was a well known antiquary, whose specialty was arms and armour. He died in Edinburgh in 1901, and is buried in Dean Cemetery (in the obscured lower terrace to the south). His daughter, Hamilton Lora (1868-1921), is buried 10m to his east with her husband, Robert Scott Moncrieff (1862-1923).

He receives a mention in Evelyn Waugh's Sword of Honour trilogy. In the 'Happy Warriors' chapter, Guy Crouchback visits Cape Town Art Gallery and sees 'two remarkable Noel Patons'.


The Reconciliation of Titania and Oberon
  • Cymocles Discovered By Atis In The Bowre Of Blisse, Spencer's Fairie Queene, Book II, Chapter V (1848)
    (Type : Pen, ink and wash Size : 8¼ × 12 inches (21 × 30.5 cm) Location : Public collection)
  • Calvary (1849)
    (Type : Pencil on paper Size : 4⅛ × 6½ inches (10.5 × 16.8 cm) Location : Private collection)
  • Sermon on the Mount (1849)
    (Type : Pencil on paper Size : 4⅛ × 6½ inches (10.5 × 16.8 cm) Location : Private collection)
  • The Pursuit of Pleasure (1855)
  • The Bluidie Tryst (1855)
    (Type : Oil on Canvas Size : 28⅝ × 25½ inches (73 × 65 cm) Location : Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, Scotland)
  • Home (ca. 1855–56)
    (Type: Oil on Panel Location: Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA)
  • Hesperus (1857)
    (Type : Oil on canvas Size : 35¾ × 27⅛ inches (91 × 69 cm) Location : Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, Scotland)
  • Hesperus – detail (1857)
    (Type : Oil on canvas Size : 35¾ × 27⅛ inches (91 × 69 cm) Location : Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, Scotland)
  • In Memoriam (1858)
    (Type : Oil on panel Size : 48⅜ × 37⅞ inches (123 × 96.5 cm) Location : Private collection)
  • By a Painter (1861) Poem
  • Mors Janua Vitae (1866)
  • Spindrift (1867) Poem
  • Oskold and the Ell-maids (1874)
  • The Man with the Muck-Rake (1875–9)[8]
    (Location : Ferens Art Gallery, Hull City Museums collection,[9] also a study for the same work (1872)[10])
  • In Die Malo (1882)
  • How an Angel rowed Sir Galahad across the Dern Mere (1888)
    (Type : Oil on canvas Location : Private collection)
  • Oberon and the Mermaid (1888)
    (Type : Oil on canvas Location : Private collection)
  • The Spirit of Religion (cartoon) at Dunfermline City Chambers
  • Sir Galahad
    (Type : Oil on canvas Location : Private collection)
  • Warriors
    (Type : Oil on canvas Size : 23 × 27⅞ inches (58.5 × 71 cm) Location : Private collection)


Grave of Joseph Noel Paton in Dean Cemetery
Paton's monument to his parents and siblings who died in childhood, Dunfermline Abbey

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Artrenewal - Joseph Noel Paton". Retrieved November 2014. 
  2. ^ [markers.]
  3. ^ "yourpaintings/artists/joseph-noel-paton". Retrieved November 2014. 
  4. ^ "sir-joseph-noel-paton -the-quarrel-of-oberon-and-titania". 
  5. ^ [However, after 1870 Paton concentrated on religious pictures painted in a Nazarene style. The artist enjoyed a successful official career. He was a prize winner in the Westminster Hall Competitions for 1845 and 1847. He was elected Associate of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1847 and Member in 1850. Queen Victoria —> appointed him Her Majesty's Linmer for Scotland and knighted him in 1866 and also commissioned his pictures for the prayer room at Osborne House, Isle of Wight. However his work is still under-rated. The most substantial published study of his art appeared as long ago as 1895, and the only major modern exhibition of his work took place in 1967, organised by the Scottish Arts Council in Edinburgh.]
  6. ^ "victorian/painting/paton". Retrieved November 2014. 
  7. ^ [Paton is remembered today for his fairy paintings, such as the "Quarrel of Oberon and Titania" (1849, National Gallery of Scotland), also for a small number of modern life paintings produced under Pre-Raphaelite influence.]
  8. ^ "Collections – Search Results (Hull City Council Museums)". 
  9. ^ "The Man with the Muck Rake". 
  10. ^ "CPWG". Joseph Noel Paton, Study: The Man with the Muck Rake, 1872. 

External links[edit]