Haddo’s lost masterpieces

The paintings that caught the eye of BBC experts
The paintings that caught the eye of BBC experts

BBC experts examining the amazing art collection at Haddo House have discovered two very important paintings, including a piece that is ‘probably by’ Raphael.

The revelation comes in BBC4’s Britain’s Lost Masterpieces which airs on Wednesday (October 5 ) at 9pm.

Art experts Dr Bendor Grosvenor and Jacky Klein spotted two paintings of interest in the dining room on the Art UK website, before they visited Haddo House earlier this year - a previously unknown landscape attributed to French artist Claude Lorrain and a portrait of the Madonna that was attributed to Innocenzo da Imola.

The paintings were acquired in the 19th century by George Hamilton-Gordon, the 4th Earl of Aberdeen and Prime Minister between 1852 and 1855.

As part of the programme, the artworks were removed and professionally cleaned and conserved by Edinburgh-based conservator Owen Davison, enabling them to undergo detailed investigation.

Claude is regarded as a very important landscape painter whose work has inspired generations of landscape painters, including Turner and Constable.

However, the most exciting news comes with the discovery that a painting that had been attributed as ‘after Raphael’, a phrase used when the actual artist is unclear, is in fact ‘probably by’ Raphael.

The Virgin Mary was purchased by the 4th Earl of Aberdeen as a genuine Raphael, but it was later attributed to Innocenzo da Imola.

Jennifer Melville, head of collections, archives and libraries at the National Trust for Scotland said: “We always knew that the collection at Haddo was very special, and the discovery of these wonderful pieces confirms its importance in the Scottish art world.

“This is particularly exciting for the piece which looks likely to be by Raphael.

“There are not many places where you can experience the work of one of the Renaissance’s giants in a dining room. It is this intimacy which makes exploring our collections quite so special.”

Dr Bendor Grosvenor said: “Finding a possible Raphael is about as exciting as it gets. This is a beautiful picture that deserves to be seen by as many people as possible.

“I hope ‘the Haddo Madonna’, which would be Scotland’s only publicly owned Raphael, brings many people to this part of Aberdeenshire.”