National Trust’s Woodford still life’s journey from Europe to the Blue Mountains


Pinchin claimed the painting was briefly on show when the Woodford Academy opened to the community in 1996, but was shortly returned to storage.

20 several years passed in advance of the Woodford nevertheless everyday living captivated the notice of a conservator in 1999 who instructed the artwork dated from the 17th century and had been established by Dutch painter Willemz Claesz Heda or his teenage son Gerrit.

“A work by Heda Sr. bought a short while ago in the United States for US$354,000,” a July 1999 file notice reported.

Nevertheless the Woodford even now everyday living slipped into obscurity for another 10 a long time right up until it was despatched to a Melbourne art conservation laboratory, which cast doubt on the authenticity of the painting.

The 2009 report stated it was unlikely the artwork was a legitimate 17th-century Dutch however existence: “Despite having various similarities in building to panel paintings of the interval, the visible appraisal yielded substantial stylistic and complex discrepancies leading to this conclusion.”

However, the report also advised additional assessment of the artwork to validate when it was painted.

But Pinchin explained economical pressures on the money-starved Nationwide Believe in prevented even more chemical screening of the paints and the artwork was returned to storage.

“At some stage, it was taken off from its frame and wrapped in bubble wrap,” she explained. “Staffing amounts too have been minimized, and there was a sizeable gap in time just before the care of the selection experienced a staff place devoted to its management.”

A different menace to the portray occurred in 2016 when there was a mould outbreak at the Countrywide Trust’s headquarters at Observatory Hill where the Woodford continue to lifetime had been stored in a storage space that was not local weather controlled.

Pinchin said all merchandise experienced to be dealt with and taken out although the storage places were being forensically cleaned.


“In late 2016, the Continue to Lifestyle, along with a amount of assortment goods, ended up returned to a protected storage device in Marrickville,” she explained. “In 2017 the collection merchandise in the Marrickville retail outlet were being transferred to Retford Park, Bowral.”

However, Pinchin stated the Woodford however lifetime was not forgotten, and 4 several years later on it was a person of the artworks selected for restoration perform next a big artwork conservation charm executed by the National Belief.

Julian Bickersteth, chief government of Intercontinental Conservation Services, explained the portray had been “rather boring and lifeless” when it was handed to his colleague senior paintings conservator Claire Heasman last calendar year.

The artwork was divided into two boards and coated with a large darkish varnish that conservators had to operate out how to take out without the need of damaging the paint function beneath.

“Once the varnish was taken off the painting was quite diligently cleaned,” he explained. “The two boards were being then joined and the tiny losses infilled. The spots of decline have been then painted and eventually new varnish was applied.”


Nevertheless, it was the discovery of the artists’ signatures on a knife in the foreground of the painting that confirmed the painting was a 17th-century Dutch masterpiece.

The Woodford even now existence may possibly have been saved from obscurity and doable damage from mould, but secret continues to surround the portray.

Pinchin claimed the painting’s amazing journey from the Netherlands to Australia in the 19th century and how it ended up in the Blue Mountains is unsure.

The Woodford art collection also involves two massive Dutch maritime paintings and quite a few Victorian landscapes from the 1860s.

Pinchin stated it was possible the artworks were obtained by Alfred Fairfax just after he acquired the assets afterwards recognized as Woodford Academy in 1868.

Pinchin explained Dutch and Italian baroque shots were being stylish in Victorian England and ended up collected by Australian personal collectors “as a image of the cultural advancement of the colony”.

Pinchin claimed the painting experienced survived not just its lengthy journey to Australia, but extra than a century of filth, dampness and bugs in the Blue Mountains.

“I believe the painting should have been blessed all along,” she said. “It’s survived now to be in a affliction exactly where it’s been ready to be brought back to a gorgeous and lovely piece for exhibit.”


Former Artwork Gallery of NSW curator and artist Hendrik Kolenberg claimed it was unusual to find artwork treasures this kind of as the Woodford nonetheless lifetime with negligible documentation.

We like a excellent tale pertaining to provenance,” he claimed. “Best of all nevertheless is if the work of artwork moves you, makes you return to seem at it over and more than.”

Kolenberg reported he was a small cynical when very first explained to about the Woodford nonetheless everyday living, but his scepticism was “swept absent the moment” the portray was unwrapped.

“It is a treasure, a rare a person,” he said.

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