Page last updated at 08:17 GMT, Wednesday, 22 July 2009 09:17 UK

School sign 'may be Gainsborough'

Picture from Holton St Mary church
Attempts at restoring the sign have led to areas being painted over

An old school sign hanging in a Suffolk church may be a lost work by the famous artist Thomas Gainsborough, an art expert believes.

The sign found in Holton St Mary church could have been painted when the artist was 21, Dr Lindsay Stainton said.

She recognised the figure of a young boy with a spade on the sign and linked it with a signed Gainsborough sketch owned by a New York library.

The drawing puzzled experts because it had never been seen on a larger canvas.

The large sign for Holton St Mary School was hung outside the school building where it suffered weather damage.

A National Gallery spokesman said its specialist curator could not "comment on the authenticity of the painting".

'Remarkable' survival

Parts of the sign have been painted over in the last 50 years during restoration attempts.

Dr Stainton, a former curator of the British Museum, believes it is still possible to see Gainsborough's original hand in the highlights on the shovel, the sandy path and the green foliage in the foreground.

She said: "It is remarkable that this has survived in the village for which it was originally painted, even though it long ago lost its identity as an early work by Gainsborough.

This latest scholarly discovery, together with more research under way, is sure to help pave the way for more Gainsborough revelations
Philip Mould, gallery owner

"It was painted in 1748 when the local rector founded the school.

"One can still stand exactly where Gainsborough stood: The old schoolhouse shown on the left survives, though now it's a private house."

Suffolk-born Gainsborough was one of the most famous portrait and landscape painters of the 18th Century.

London gallery owner Philip Mould, who has a keen interest in Gainsborough's work, said: "As his early biographers testify, Gainsborough was a prodigious teenage talent.

"Because of the picture's damaged condition, its only value is academic, but this latest scholarly discovery, together with more research under way, is sure to help pave the way for more Gainsborough revelations."



Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
New Gainsborough painting found
01 Jun 09 |  Suffolk
Historic landscape goes to museum
21 Apr 09 |  Suffolk
Gainsborough portraits unveiled
05 Mar 09 |  Bristol
Art lovers' chance of old masters
06 Oct 04 |  Suffolk

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific