Historic Sheffield painting given new lease of life

Painter conservator Eeva Kukkonen with the historical view of Sheffield she has restored.
Painter conservator Eeva Kukkonen with the historical view of Sheffield she has restored.
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A historic painting of Sheffield’s lost industrial past has been lovingly restored to its full glory thanks to city art-lovers.

Members of the Friends of Museums Sheffield helped raise the £3,000 needed for the restoration of the 19th century painting, Bridge and White Rails at Bridgehouses.

The painting, created by an unknown artist, offers a glimpse into daily life around the River Don in the mid-19th century, with the portrait thought to have been completed around 1840.

Until recently, the work suffered from cracks and scratches in the paint and yellowing varnish, as well as damage to its frame.

But after the fundraising efforts succeeded, the painting was sent off for several weeks of painstaking restoration at Critchlow & Kukkonen Ltd, a specialist painting conservation and restoration studio based in Sheffield.

Eeva Kukkonen, from the studio, said their work revealed previously hidden figures in the painting’s foreground.

“There was some old over-paint that was there to cover some figures,” she said.

“There was one man on the right-hand side covered and a large horse and a rider. There was damage on the horse so somebody may have taken an easier option to cover them rather than fix it.”

The portrait is now on show at the Millenium Gallery as part of the new Picturing Sheffield exhibition.

Running until April 12 next year, the exhibition includes work by key artists from the 1700s to the present day, including JMW Turner, Joe Scarborough, Bill Brandt, Frank Constantine, Linda Benedict Jones and John Hoyland. It examines the relationship between views of the city and the identity of the people who have lived and died here.