English Heritage Returns 450-year-old Painting to Audley End Following Transformative Restoration by Conservators

16 Jul 2021 11:42 AM

Today, Friday 16 July, visitors to Audley End House in Essex will be able to see an important 16th century Dutch painting, known as The Vegetable Seller, reinstated to the historic house’s art collection for the first time in 60 years. It is also the first time in centuries that the painting will be seen as it was originally conceived, having been restored to its former glory by conservators over the past two years. Our conservation experts now believe they have uncovered strong evidence to link the work to the Antwerp born painter, Joachim Beuckelaer (c.1535–75) and it may even have been painted by the artist himself. Beukelaer was known for his influence on the development of still life art in Northern Europe and Italy, whose most famous works include The Four Elements, in the collection of the National Gallery, London.

Image: a conservator looks at The Vegetable Seller

The painting had previously been something of a mystery to curators at Audley End, with the full history of the canvas lost over time. Depicting a lone female figure looking out at the viewer surrounded by an array of produce, The Vegetable Seller was acquired for Audley End during the second half of the eighteenth century by Sir John Griffin Griffin, who owned the house at the time. Unsigned and in poor condition, it was impossible to date the work conclusively

Restoration of the painting began in 2019, with conservators hopeful to not only reveal the original colours underneath darkened varnish and deterioration, but to also reveal the artist’s identity.

Following the two-year restoration project, our curators now believe the painting has close associations to 16th-century Antwerp painter, Joachim Beuckelaer (c.1535–75), or could even have been painted by the artist himself.

Click here for the full press release