Last night a fascinating set of programmes was broadcast on BBC1. ‘Hidden Paintings’ highlighted exactly that – the stories of paintings that are in the nation’s art collection, but that for a wide variety of reasons are not on public display. Some of these paintings are already on the Your Paintings site, and others will be added in the coming months.
Highlights include Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen tracking down a painting by a Wiltshire artist that once hung in 10 Downing Street, forgery experts scrutinising paintings by legendary Cornish mariner-turned-artist Alfred Wallis to find out if they are fake or worth a fortune, and Dan Snow discovering some paintings hidden in the middle of Sherwood Forest, that shed light on the role of the aristocracy in the First World War.
The full list of programmes is:
- In Liverpool and Manchester, Paul McGann on Britain's youngest war artist, and long-lost depictions of the war effort.
- In Cumbria, former Dad’s Army actor Ian Lavender on two paintings of local football matches that helped pay off a drinking debt
- Linda Barker uncovering Yorkshire's hidden paintings, including one that may have led thousands to their deaths in the First World War.
- Nick Hancock tracing the history of Midlands industry through its hidden art, starting in his home town of Stoke-on-Trent.
- Dan Snow finding paintings hidden in the middle of Sherwood Forest, that shed light on the role of the aristocracy in the First World War.
- Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen investigating a once famous painting by a Wiltshire artist that hung on the walls of 10 Downing Street.
- Meera Syal searching for hidden paintings which reveal the extraordinary story of a Norfolk Prince, son of the last Maharaja of the Punjab.
- Forgery experts scrutinising paintings by legendary Cornish mariner-turned-artist Alfred Wallis to find out if they are fake or genuine worth a fortune.
- Joe Crowley unraveling the mystery of recently discovered paintings charting Thomas Hardy's landscapes.
- A long hidden painting of a lady in a red dress that sheds light on the tangled love lives of novelist Virginia Woolf, and artist Vanessa Bell and her gay lover Duncan Grant.
- Hardeep Singh Kohli using paintings to look at a history of multicultural London spanning from the Irish migrants to the slavery-abolition movement.
Some of you may notice that these stories are only about paintings in galleries and collections in England. Your Paintings is absolutely a UK wide project, and over the coming months paintings from across the UK will be added. However, in the initial launch, the majority of the paintings on the site are in galleries and collections in England, and so these first set of programmes cover those galleries and collections. This reflects the practicalities of cataloguing being carried out by our partners, the Public Catalogue Foundation. We hope that in the future, once more paintings are on the site, there will be programmes from across the UK about the collection.