Two sections of a painting by Francis Hayman are being officially re-united for the first time in almost three centuries at London dealer Philip Mould’s new gallery in Dover Street.
Hayman's self-portrait c.1735 has been owned by the Royal
Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery in his home city of Exeter,
Devon, since 1963.
However, the other half of the portrait - a lady thought to be
Hayman's estranged first wife of whom nothing was known - is a new
discovery, spotted by Mr Mould's researcher, Bendor Grosvenor, in
an auction in rural New Hampshire where it was described simply as
'Circle of Hogarth'.
Restoration soon revealed that the picture had been substantially
over-painted, concealing not just an easel with an unfinished
sketch but also the knee of a man. It was then that Mould realised
he had bought only one half of a portrait.
A trip to the West Country to place the two halves of the painting
side by side confirmed that they had originally been part of the
same portrait - but who was the sitter? Further research revealed
that Hayman had split up from his first wife shortly after he began
work on the picture and its unfinished state suggests it was the
artist himself who cut the picture in half. He later
It is hoped that the two halves of the picture will be permanently
reunited. The gallery has applied for grants to buy the newly
discovered section for an undisclosed sum.
The work will go on display as part of Philip Mould's new
inaugural public exhibition Four Hundred Years of British
Portraiture at the gallery at 29 Dover Street, Mayfair.
• On November 24, 2004, a Hayman work set the then record for any
work sold at auction in the UK outside London when his portrait of
the Richardson family sold to Agnews for a hammer price of £540,000
at John Nicholson's of Fernhurst.
By Roland Arkell
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