Conservation efforts are underway to restore the Omdurman Panorama, which was painted in 1901 for the World Trade Fair in Glasgow and exhibited in Edinburgh and Manchester as well. The enormous painting depicts scenes from the battlefield upon which Winston Churchill took part in a cavalry charge with the 21st Lancers in 1898.
The battle featured Scottish soldiers participating in the defeat of the forces of the Mahdi, who was held responsible for the death of Major General Charles “Chinese” Gordon in Khartoum. The commission was supposed to show the Scottish defeating the oppressors of liberty and relate to the defeat of the slave trade, which Gordon had suppressed and the Mahdi revived.
Originally the painting was 300 feet long and 30 feet high. After it was displayed, it was chopped up and used to decorate a hotel in Pebbles. Since then the painting has been over built, and the last remaining part on display is of the 21st Lancers. A single figure in the section may have been meant to be Churchill since it has the same pose as a photo of him that was popular at the time. What survives of the rest of the painting, which decorated the walls of the hotel ball room, is now covered with panels.
Plans are now underway to have this “lost” treasure fully uncovered so it can be photographed for the museum in Khartoum and restored for display somewhere. The hotel has agreed to allow this, and Historic Scotland will fund 50% if the other 50% can be raised elsewhere. More than £5000 has been raised so far. For more information or to make a contribution, please contact Michael Mallinson at [email protected]