One of the oldest paintings housed at Reaseheath Hall has been sold to accommodate new artwork across the campus.
Painted in the style of Hungarian artist Jacob Bogdani, (1660-1724) , a retired member of staff recalled being told the painting was created by one of the daughters of the Cotton Jodrell family.
The painting under discussion (pictured below) was acquired by Cheshire County Council when they bought Reaseheath Hall from the Cotton Jodrell family in 1919. It was at this time that Reaseheath Hall became the new home of the Cheshire Agricultural and Horticultural College, replacing Saltersford Hall, Holmes Chapel. Originally the painting hung in the then family dining room, which is now the college staff room.
The practicalities of storing this large painting proved challenging, as it was eventually decided the painting would be replaced by a mirror. As a result, for some time, the painting was balanced between a desk and a photocopier in Lynn Fairhurst’s (PA to Principal) office. Not the best place for a delicate OAP (Old Aged Painting). Eventually the painting was moved temporarily to a meeting room on the first floor of Reaseheath Hall, where it was viewed by an art specialist from Wright Marshall. He stated the importance of the painting’s provenance, for any valuation. After his visit it was then moved for safety and kept in plain light sight where no one noticed it – the minstrels’ gallery overlooking the main hall. Moving it about with help from cleaners, caretakers and catering office staff for all its photo calls caused many Monty Python type shenanigans, including a senior manager tripping while on the minstrels’ gallery and narrowly avoiding diving onto the Principal’s buffet below.
In tandem with the storage issue came an extensive search of the old Cotton Jodrell family records. A letter referring to a list of contents included in the Reaseheath Hall sale was unearthed (in autumn 2014). Unfortunately the list was no longer attached.
After researching and tracing Bogdani art though sale records etc., Richard Green, a New Bond Street gallery, appeared to be the recognised specialists. Rob Brown (Reaseheath’s Head of Technical Services) agreed to photograph our painting and these were sent to the gallery. A request followed for more close ups of the front, back, frame and brush strokes. Eventually the photos viewed by the ‘expert’ decided that ‘the directors have decided the painting is not of interest to the gallery at this time’.
Almost 2 years after the painting was taken off the wall, our OAP went for auction in Knutsford on 8th November 2016. With a reserve of £1,000 and after ‘book’ bids and competing bidders on the phone and online it reached a creditable £1,750, sold to an online buyer in Surrey. The College received £1,429 after commission and VAT.
The College Executive Team has agreed that the money raised from the painting can be spent on art in the library and across the college.