Antiques Roadshow star spots that £400 painting is really a Van Dyck worth a thousand times as much

ByMartin Beckford

PUBLISHED:          19:06  EST, 28 December 2013

It is every Antiques Roadshow fan’s dream – a  painting picked up in a shop for just £400 has been identified as a Van Dyck  masterpiece.

The piece, worth up to £400,000, will be  revealed tonight to be the most valuable painting to feature in the show’s  36-year history.

It was identified after a hunch by   presenter Fiona Bruce when the owner of the painting, Father Jamie MacLeod, took  it along to be valued at Newstead Abbey in Nottinghamshire.

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Materpiece: Fiona Bruce with FR Jamie MacLeod with the 17th century work of artMasterpiece: Fiona Bruce with FR Jamie MacLeod with the  17th century work of art

Ms Bruce, who recently made a TV programme  about Anthony van Dyck, thought it might be a genuine work  by the Flemish  master and showed it to an expert. It was later confirmed  to be by the  leading court painter in 17th Century England.

‘It’s everyone’s dream to spot a hidden  masterpiece,’ she said. ‘I’m thrilled that my hunch paid off – to discover a  genuine Van Dyck is incredibly exciting.’

The picture, showing a Brussels magistrate,  is believed to be a preparatory piece for a larger work painted in  1634.

While the main painting was destroyed in  1695, the smaller single portrait survived and somehow found its way to an  antiques shop in Nantwich, Cheshire.

From there it was bought for £400 by Fr  MacLeod – mainly because he liked its golden frame.

Antiques Roadshow star spots a Van Dyck worth £400,000

Could it be? Antiques Roadshow expert Philip Mould inspects the piece before it was officially verified as a genuine Van DyckCould it be? Antiques Roadshow expert Philip Mould  inspects the piece before it was officially verified as a genuine Van Dyck

 

Stunning: The artwork will now be sold to pay for new bells at Father MacLeod's churchStunning: The artwork will now be sold to pay for new  bells at Father MacLeod’s church

 

It hung in the hallway of a retreat  he runs  for the clergy in Derbyshire. At at one stage, the painting fell off its hook on  the wall and landed on a CD player, smashing the  device.

After art expert Philip Mould inspected it,  it underwent a thorough  restoration and was officially verified as a genuine  Van Dyck by Dr  Christopher Brown, who is a world authority on the  artist.

Mr Mould said: ‘Discoveries of this type are  exceptionally rare. The  painting’s emergence from beneath layers of paint was  dramatic.

‘It’s been revealed as a thrilling example of  Van Dyck’s skills of direct  observation that made him so great a portrait  painter.’

The artwork will now be sold by Fr MacLeod to  pay for the restoration of  bells at the chapel within the grounds of the  retreat he runs….

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