Hidden painting discovered at The Higgins Bedford

But artist and date of painting are a mystery

Monday, 5th July 2021, 1:49 pm

Conservation work as part of an upcoming exhibition in Bedford has revealed a hidden painting.

For every art exhibition at The Higgins Bedford, staff check on the condition of the paintings to identify which will need conservation before going on public display.

And while working on a watercolour sketch by Bedfordshire artist, Stanley Orchart, the conservator was surprised to discover another artwork hidden behind the frame.

The mysterious hidden painting
The mysterious hidden painting

The artwork is a fully finished oil painting depicting a picturesque country cottage.

No artist’s signature has been found but further investigation has revealed two sides of the painting had been cut down to make it fit behind the frame. The signature was most likely removed in this way.

The discovery was made during the preparations for Going to Town - 200 Years of Bedford's Art - which opens at The Higgins Bedford on Saturday (July 10).

It will feature artworks by JMW Turner, Dora Carrington, Thomas Fisher and Stanley Orchart, highlighting their fascination of Bedford and the River Great Ouse.

Stanley Orchart's painting, with Bedford Prison in the background

Victoria Partridge, keeper of fine and decorative art, said: “Having artworks conserved is always an exciting process. When works come back they are always so bright and fresh, but this is the first time that a new artwork has been discovered. I look forward to finding out more about it."

Councillor Doug McMurdo, portfolio holder for leisure and culture, said: “The discovery of this new, hidden oil painting is really exciting and at the moment, shrouded in mystery. While we don’t know much about the painting at the moment, we’re looking forward to finding out more."