Your Pictures: Bristol's 'lost' Hogarth altarpiece

A new BBC series, Hidden Paintings, tells the story of some of the 200,000 publicly-owned oils which are not on display in England's museums and art galleries.

Approximately 1,200 oil paintings make up Bristol City Council's fine art collection - most of which is not on public view.

St Nicholas Church, which is now a city council office, is home to a vast altarpiece painted by William Hogarth in 1756.

And its history is an interesting one.

Redcliffe Church originally commissioned Hogarth to paint a canvas as an altarpiece and he produced three large canvasses, known as a triptych.

Called Sealing of the Tomb, it depicts the Ascension, the Sealing of the Sepulchre and the Three Marys at the Tomb.

Interesting history

The church put the paintings - for which Hogarth was paid £525 - into gilded frames under the guidance of Bristol architect, Thomas Paty.

They hung there for 100 years but then the church decided that they were no longer suitable for Redcliffe.

They were initially given to the Bristol Fine Art Academy, now known as the Royal West of England Academy, but were then put into storage in 1910.

The altarpiece was purchased by Bristol Museums and Galleries in 1955, with the help of the National Arts Collections Fund's Art Fund, and is now housed in St Nicholas Church.

The painting can be viewed from Monday to Friday, during office hours, by appointment only on 0117 903 9010.

You can see BBC One's Hidden Paintings at 2225 BST on Sunday, June 26.

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