Hunt on to prove paint­ing au­then­tic

Central Leader - - NEWS - By KELLY DEN­NETT

John Nicholson needs help to find out if he’s been sit­ting on a gold­mine for the past 26 years.

The Te Atatu res­i­dent has been hold­ing on to a large paint­ing since he bought it in 1987.

He be­lieves the piece to be an orig­i­nal work by English painter Wil­liam Hol­man Hunt but he needs help ver­i­fy­ing this be­fore he can sell it.

Mr Nicholson pur­chased it among sev­eral other items at a Ge­orge Walker’s auc­tion of a de­ceased woman’s es­tate.

The framed paint­ing ap­pealed to him and thought it would make an in­ter­est­ing ad­di­tion to his sal­vage store in Pen­rose.

He paid about $4000 for the lot and hung the paint­ing in his shop.

About a month later a woman claim­ing to be from Auck­land Art Gallery took great in­ter­est in the work.

‘‘She was there for a good hour,’’ Mr Nicholson says.

‘‘She pho­tographed it and mea­sured it and was check­ing it all over. She was re­ally in­trigued by it.’’

What was more in­trigu­ing was her ad­vice to Mr Nicholson.

‘‘She said I want you to take it down, wrap it up in cot­ton wool and put it in stor­age.

‘‘I said ‘do you think it’s worth some­thing?’, and she said, ‘ yes I do. I can’t fault it’.’’

If the woman is cor­rect then the paint­ing could be worth mil­lions.

Hunt painted two copies called Light of the World about 1853.

It de­picts Je­sus knock­ing on a closed door with no han­dle which Mr Hunt said rep­re­sented the closed mind.

The two orig­i­nals re­side in Lon­don’s St Paul’s Cathe­dral and in Ox­ford but

The Mr Nicholson be­lieves Hunt painted more than two. He’s sought help from Lon­don auc­tion houses Sotheby’s and Christie’s who’ve told him he needs authen­ti­ca­tion from an ex­pert be­fore they can help him sell it.

Auck­land and Welling­ton art gal­leries haven’t been able to pro­vide as­sis­tance.

‘‘So we’re left with the pos­si­bil­ity of some­body out there who might be an art his­to­rian and who might be able to help me ver­ify it,’’ he says.

‘‘The more I’ve gone into it, I think we’ve got a real piece.’’

Mr Nicholson would like to hear from any­body who can au­then­ti­cate and cer­tify the paint­ing as a gen­uine Hunt.

He can be con­tacted on 837 7197.

His­toric piece: The Light of the World was painted in the 19th cen­tury by artist Wil­liam Hol­man Hunt.

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