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Old Painting Bought For £100 Revealed As Work By Turner, Expected To Sell For £30,000

An old watercolour painting, initially purchased for a modest £100, has been unveiled as a genuine work by the renowned artist Joseph Mallord William Turner. Discovered hanging in a dining room after more than three decades, the painting is expected to fetch a staggering £30,000 at auction.

Painting by the artist Joseph Mallord William Turner Photo: Cheffins

An unexpected treasure has emerged from the shadows of obscurity as a painting, once thought to be a mere adornment to a dining room, is revealed to be the handiwork of none other than the esteemed artist Joseph Mallord William Turner.

Purchased for a humble £100 during a Georgian mansion clearance sale in Suffolk decades ago, the unassuming watercolour depicting Bishop Vaughan's chapel at St David's Cathedral in Pembrokeshire, Wales, has now been authenticated as a genuine Turner masterpiece.

The painting's journey from overlooked décor to potentially lucrative auction item began when the current owner, who prefers to remain anonymous, stumbled upon a hidden inscription of 'W Turner' on its back. After more than 30 years of hanging inconspicuously, a spark of curiosity led the owner to investigate further.

Following a trip to St David's Cathedral in 2022, where Turner is believed to have worked on the piece during his tour of Wales in 1795, the owner's suspicions were aroused.

In a fortunate turn of events, the owners reached out to Cheffins auction house in Cambridge, where Turner expert Patricia Cross was astounded by the discovery. The significance of the painting lies not only in its artistic merit but also in its contribution to understanding Turner's early development as an artist.

Born in 1775, Turner is celebrated for his romantic depictions of landscapes and architecture, and this newly found piece offers a rare glimpse into his formative years. Andrew Wilton, former director for the Turner Collection at Tate Britain, verified the painting's authenticity, further solidifying its place in art history.

While the painting's whereabouts for the past two centuries remain a mystery, its potential value at auction is estimated between £20,000 to £30,000. This windfall echoes the substantial sums fetched by other Turner works, such as his portrayal of Caernarvon Castle, which commanded nearly half a million pounds.