Long before Antiques Roadshow became a mainstay on American public broadcasting channels, it was popular on British television.
But in the 36 years the show has run on the BBC, it has never identified a more valuable painting than that first brought in by Father Jamie MacLeod in June.
The work, of a Renaissance official, was purchased by MacLeod for approximately $660 from an antiques shop in Cheshire, England.
After it caught the eye of Antiques Roadshow folks earlier this year, the painting was cleaned and restored, after which it was verified to be the work of Flemish master Anthony Van Dyke, and worth nearly $660,000. The pronouncement was made this past weekend on the program.
Van Dyck (1599-1641) served as court painter in England under King Charles I. The work is a portrait of a magistrate of Brussels and probably was made by Van Dyke in preparation for a 1634 work showing seven magistrates, according to the BBC.
The painting was authenticated by Van Dyck specialist Christopher Brown as a genuine piece by the Flemish artist.
MacLeod runs a retreat house in north Derbyshire. He told the BBC he wants to sell the painting and buy new church bells from the proceeds.
“It’s everyone’s dream to spot a hidden masterpiece,” said Fiona Bruce, the show’s host. “I’m thrilled that my hunch paid off; to discover a genuine Van Dyck is incredibly exciting.”
Discoveries of this type are exceptionally rare, according to English art dealer and art historian Philip Mould.
“The painting’s emergence from beneath layers of paint was dramatic,” he said. “It’s been revealed as a thrilling example of Van Dyck’s skills of direct observation that made him so great a portrait painter.”
(Top: Father Jamie MacLeod and Antiques Roadshow host Fiona Bruce discuss the Anthony Van Dyke work identified through the program.)