Couple discover lost 'Constable' painting worth up to £2m

The painting, believed to be a Constable work, was found in the guest wing of the 13th century castle.

Lost ‘Constable’ painting worth up to £2m uncovered in 800-year-old castle

A Constable painting worth up to £2m has been uncovered in a 800-year-old castle.

The work, believed to be by English landscape artist John Constable, was found in the guest wing of the castle at Craufurland Country Estate near Kilmarnock.

The estate is run by laird Simon Houison Craufurd, and his wife Adity, who gave up their jobs in the city to take on the family home.

The couple called in antique experts Ronnie and Clive from Channel 4’s Millionaire Hoarders to help them value items and help drum up cash for repairs.

Adity and Simon were delighted over the discovery

During their hunt, they discovered the painting – which is believed to be worth between £1m and £2m.

Simon told STV News: “During an evaluation in the 1960s, we were told in the past that it wasn’t a real Constable.

“Ronnie said ‘are you sure it’s not the real thing?’ and I said ‘I don’t think so.’ So we’re looking into it further.

“It’s kind of like saying ‘You might have won the lottery, you have three-quarters of the numbers, so you may or may not get it. We’re not sure yet.

“We have to scientifically prove it through paint analysis, which is beyond my own understanding. I’m not an expert – but my fingers are crossed.”

On the show Ronnie after getting a first opinion on the Constable, told the couple: “You [Simon and Adity] said it had been looked at and it was considered not to be real.

“Caroline and I showed an image to a Constable specialist and expert now, 98% of Constables she gets shown are rejected, 2% she considers. We’re in the 2%. It’s still not definitive but it’s very compelling.

“If it turns out to be a Constable the auctioneer would suggest an estimate of £800k-£1m. There’s a big if but I have a lot of confidence in this.

“The next part of the journey will require a lot of confidence backed up by a little bit of money and that could take six months up to a year.”

Experts carried out research over six months and identified the original owner of the painting; a man named JP Heseltine.

The collector owned 600-year-old master drawings including Rembrandt, Michelangelo and Durer.

They discovered Simon’s great-great grandfather bought the work from the collector after finding letters dating back to 1918.

Simon said: “He was a very successful businessman – he made shoes in Northamptonshire. He had a large family house that he liked to furnish with nice things.

“It’s fascinating to gain a better understanding of what my ancestors did and where they went – and meeting present day people who have an interest in that.

“The experts have been incredibly nice to deal with. There will be hours and hours on the editing room floor of things we’ve been told about our house. They are all so knowledgeable.”

Other finds from the castle include an authentic epitaph written by Scottish poet Robert Burns, a William Marlow painting and a hotel guest book that was signed by Charles Dickens.

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