Dan Snow explores work of artist Arthur Spooner

Dan Snow looks at Arthur Spooner's Goose Fair, housed at Nottingham Castle
Image caption Dan Snow looks at Arthur Spooner's Goose Fair, housed at Nottingham Castle

Nottingham-born artist Arthur Spooner was a painter who recorded events in the city of his birth.

A BBC One programme has retraced the career of Spooner (1873 - 1962) whose paintings are scattered across Nottinghamshire.

Hidden Paintings of the East Midlands was fronted by Dan Snow and looked at Spooner's work housed at Nottingham Castle, Portland College and Welbeck Abbey.

"Paintings are not always what they seem," said The One Show presenter.

He added: "I'm fascinated by paintings that can be used as a historical source and if you're interested in the history of Nottingham, there's a name that crops up again and again, Arthur Spooner."

Spooner's most famous painting was of a scene from Nottingham's renowned Goose Fair.

The work, painted in 1926, shows one of the last times the event was held in the city centre, before it moved to the Forest Recreation Ground.

Spooner was not an internationally renowned artist.

His work was considered old fashioned but he carried on, regardless of what his peers thought, documenting life in Nottingham.

As a result, we can learn more about events in Nottinghamshire.

But did he always paint the scene as it happened?

Accurate representation

One of Spooner's commissions involved depicting life at Welbeck, in North Nottinghamshire, for the Duke and Duchess of Portland.

Welbeck had been turned into an auxillary hospital during the First World War and Spooner's scenes depict soldiers' rehabilitation in the idyllic surroundings of the estate.

It could be a case of Spooner providing good PR for the Duke and Duchess but Derek Adlam, the curator of the Portland art collection said this was not the case.

"I'm sure they are an accurate representation of what was here," said Mr Adlam.

"The kindness of the Duchess, the facilities of the hospital... We don't really know whether the nurses were dealing with serious trauma or more in the nature of a convalescence hospital.

"[Spooner] was a sound pair of hands when you wanted an occasion painted or an [accurate] record made."

However, just to show you cannot always trust the artist, Spooner revealed in a newspaper interview in 1960, that the prominent figure of a clown in his Goose Fair picture was in fact a self-portrait.

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