Rediscovered painting of Charles I to be shown at National Gallery (UK)

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A German bomb devastated Bridgewater House, home of the Earls of Ellesmere and their magnificent art collection, on May 11, 1941. A monumental painting described yesterday by the director of the National Gallery as of huge importance was torn in 200 places by shrapnel and coated in dust.

For 68 years it was rolled up in storage, thought by its owner and experts alike to be ruined. But in February, Paul Delaroche’s Charles I Insulted by Cromwell’s Soldiers will go on display to complement an exhibition on the French artist at the National Gallery.

The painting belongs to the 7th Duke of Sutherland, who recently sold one of his Titians to the National Gallery and the National Galleries of Scotland. As part of the research for the exhibition Painting History: Delaroche and Lady Jane Grey, he let a team of conservators see the stored Delaroche. In June it was unrolled for the first time in more than half a century, at his home in the Scottish Borders.

Far from being destroyed the painting was “fully legible”, Nicholas Penny, the gallery’s director, said. The damage is mostly in the bottom half of the vast canvas and therefore away from the focal point of the work: the faces of Charles and his tormentors.

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