emerges from behind the curtains', The Times, 29 October 1994
detective work has uncovered the hidden secret of a £350,000
painting after it was "doctored" in the early 1950s.
"The Crystal Ball" by John William Waterhouse RA
(1849-1917) shows a young model in a red dress gazing into the ball,
apparently weaving a spell with the aid of a book and a skull.
was shown alongside a more spiritual picture by the artist at the
Royal Academy in 1902. The study later entered the Pyman collection
and eventually hung in the dining room at Glenborrodale Castle, Highland.
painting was sold with the castle when the property changed hands in
1952-3. But the new owner did not like the skull and had it covered
by curtains. The picture was later sold and it will be auctioned
again at Christies, London, on Friday. It came into the auction room
in its amended state.
when Martin Beisly, head of the Victorian picture department, and
his team began to research its background they came across
photographs of the original in The Art Journal, 1909. An X-ray of the
picture showed the skull still there.
pigment analysis demonstrated that the original surface was still
protected with a layer of varnish which meant the addition could be
removed safely. The picture would clean up "quite
beautifully", Mr Beisly said.