York Fine Arts recently had the pleasure of seeing a previous restoration featured on an episode of the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow. This was particularly exiting, as the painting in question had come to the gallery shrouded in mystery; apart from the fact that it had been passed down through the family for many years, the owner knew very little about its provenance. So when the opportunity arose to bring the painting to Castle Howard for examination by Antiques Roadshow experts, the owner made a special trip to see if any new leads could be uncovered.
Art dealer, writer and broadcaster Phillip Mould took a closer look and confessed that he was "enraptured" by the piece. Mould was most struck by the prominent wrist portrait the sitter wears, believing it to be the key to understanding the painting in its entirety. Confirming the gallery's own thoughts, Mould believed the wrist portrait to be a memorial image. "This has to be a member of the family; so therefore, one begins to understand that what is a picture of a very striking young woman is also something much deeper, much richer." Mould also highlighted other telling signs of mourning, such as the vase of white lilies, "a sign of purity and femininity, but also of the afterlife", as well as the subject’s prayer book and black shawl.
The portrait put Mould in mind of the Pre-Raphaelites, dating the painting to the 1840s. He furthermore speculated that the artist is most likely Richard Buckner. Buckner, an English portrait painter living in London throughout the 1840s, was renowned for capturing his Victorian gentry sitters in states of thoughtfulness and repose. Mould concluded his inspection of the painting by expressing that it almost does not matter who the artist is, as the piece itself is "an image that delivers, on a poetic note and a human note." Having had the painting in the gallery's possession for a short while, we would certainly be inclined to agree.
If you would like to see additional examples of previous restorations or have a painting in need of restoration, visit the gallery’s restoration page.