Painting's million-dollar question

Maryborough Wide Bay and Burnett Society assistant Edward Mosig shows the painting that’s estimated to be worth about $1 million and dated about 1731.
Maryborough Wide Bay and Burnett Society assistant Edward Mosig shows the painting that’s estimated to be worth about $1 million and dated about 1731. File

MARYBOROUGH art lovers are still waiting for an answer to their million-dollar question: do they have a Hogarth painting on their hands?

The painting, owned by the Maryborough Wide Bay and Burnett Historical Society, is believed to be a self-portrait of the 18th Century artist

William Hogarth, dating from 1731.

The oil-on-board portrait was donated to the historical society by Maryborough resident Minnie Hull in the 1970s, who claimed her relatives had received it as a wedding present in 1881.

For the next 30 years, it was kept in a safe until it was put on display in a glass cabinet in 2003 – where it was discovered six years later by art expert Fiona Mohr, from the Queensland Museum.

Her find was made during an assessment of collections from Queensland's smaller museums, including Maryborough, Wondai and other regional areas.

Ms Mohr believed the date and style indicated the painting could be the work of the renowned artist, and reported her exciting discovery to Hogarth experts at the Tate Gallery in London.

Hogarth – who features in the painting holding an artist's palette in one hand and a paintbrush in the other – was well known for his satirical works which fetch huge prices on the international art market.

According to preliminary valuations, the painting could be worth up to $1 million if it is found to be authentic.

The frame of the painting has already been identified as being in keeping with the early-to-mid 18th Century, which lends weight to the idea that Maryborough may be home to a hidden masterpiece.

But after the initial flurry of excitement died down, Maryborough Wide Bay and Burnett Historical Society's Shirley Hewitt said, it was a long wait to find out if their painting was the real deal.

“It has been analysed but we haven't had a full report back yet,” Mrs Hewitt said.

“As far as I know, it is in a safe in Brisbane.”

While the report was set to be delivered last week, Mrs Hewitt said the art group was still waiting to hear from the art experts.

“We're hoping to hear from them soon,” she said.

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Topics:  maryborough painting

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