Father Jamie McLeod, a Catholic priest, brought the painting to the show after it was originally purchased in a Cheshire antiques shop, with no mention of the 17th century painter.
It was correctly identified as a masterpiece after the show’s host, Fiona Bruce, saw it and thought it might be genuine.
She had been making a show about van Dyck with art expert Philip Mould and it seemed to her to be remarkably similar in style to the ones she had seen featured in the programme.
After the roadshow, held at Newstead Abbey in Nottinghamshire, Mr Mould agreed to look at it. Following a lengthy restoration process, the painting was verified as a van Dyck by Dr Christopher Brown, one of the world’s authorities on the artist. The portrait, which is the most valuable to be identified in the 34-year history of the Antiques Roadshow, will now be sold to raise funds for new church bells.
Father McLeod, who runs a retreat house in the Peak District, said: “This has been an emotional experience and is such great news. It’s wonderful that new church bells, hopefully, will be pealing out to commemorate the centenary of the First World War in 2018.” Sir Anthony van Dyck was the leading court painter for King Charles I and is regarded as one of the great masters of the 17th century.
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I’m thrilled that my hunch paid off. To discover a genuine van Dyck is incredibly exciting
A self-portrait recently sold for £12.5million, sparking a fundraising campaign to save the painting for the nation. The work discovered on the show is a portrait of a Magistrate of Brussels and is believed to have been painted as part of the artist’s preparation for a 1634 work which featured seven magistrates. Unfortunately, that painting was eventually destroyed in a French assault on Brussels in 1695.
Fiona Bruce said: “It’s everyone’s dream to spot a hidden masterpiece.
“I’m thrilled that my hunch paid off. To discover a genuine van Dyck is incredibly exciting. I’m so pleased for Father McLeod.” Mr Mould said: “Discoveries of this type are exceptionally rare. The painting’s emergence from beneath layers of paint was dramatic.
“It has been revealed as a thrilling example of van Dyck’s skills of direct observation, which made him so great a portrait painter.”
The discovery will be broadcast on tonight’s episode of the Antiques Roadshow at 7pm on BBC1.