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Discovering a Constable

Tue Aug 22, 2017

© BBC / Emilie Sandy

The Hay Wain is not only John Constable's (1776-1837) most famous work, but arguably British art history's most famous landscape and recently voted one of Britain's favourite works of art.

In the first episode of Fake or Fortune's new series, which aired on Sunday, the team investigated a painting of a different view of the iconic Hay Wain scene on the River Stour, purported to be by Constable. This painting had, in fact, twice been owned by Philip himself some years ago. Having discovered the work at auction, Philip tried - and failed - to prove its authenticity, and it was sold on with the hope that the attribution of this tantalising work could be revisited in the future.

This time around, Philip and the Fake or Fortune team were able to employ the latest technologies to provide the scientific evidence and provenance needed to support the claim. In an immensely satisfying conclusion to nearly twenty years of frustrated hopes, the painting was happily proved to be by Constable himself. Described by experts as "very important indeed", the find has been widely reported in the national press, with articles in The Telegraph, Daily Mail, Antiques Trade Gazette and Radio Times.

The episode is available to watch in full on BBC iplayer here, and the series continues on Sunday 3rd September (after one week's intermission for the documentary marking the anniversary of Princess Diana's death).