‘Forgotten’ Norwich painting to be restored after being found hidden in a barn

Members of the norwich Society complete the purchase of a Moray-Smith panorama of Norwich from Caist

Members of the norwich Society complete the purchase of a Moray-Smith panorama of Norwich from Caistor Hall. Members of the a norwich Society complete the purchase of a Moray-Smith panorama of Norwich from Caistor Hall. Trevor Child, transport, Roger Connah, committee member, administrator John Litster. And chairman Jonathan hooton.

For the past decade it has been hidden away in the corner of an old stable block.

But now, a 2.5m wide panorama by the late John Moray-Smith is to be given a new lease of life.

The artwork, which depicts the city skyline from St James' Hill, was handed over to the Norwich Society this week.

It paid £2,500 to purchase the work from the owners of Caistor Hall Hotel, which had kept it in storage for several years.

The society now hopes to have the artwork restored and is calling on readers to suggest a location within Norwich to have it displayed.

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John Litster, administrator and secretary to the trustees for the Norwich Society, said: 'The Norwich panorama is in remarkably good condition considering that it has been in pubs, hotels, and a barn for the past 80 years.

'John Moray-Smith's work deserves to be preserved and displayed. He was of his time, an artist employed by Morgan's Brewery to decorate its pubs, inside and out, in a manner far beyond the traditional painted pub sign.'

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The society believes that the bas-relief style painting was created in the late 1930s due to the inclusion of City Hall in the image.

Mr Litster said the panorama spent part of its life at the Cock Inn, on King Street, located next door to ITV Anglia's offices.

It was later moved to the bar area of Caistor Hall Hotel, south of Norwich, but was put into storage following a renovation.

The artwork, which is made from heavy plaster and mounted in a solid wooden frame, is understood to have remained hidden away for around 10 years.

Restoration work is due to cost a further £2,500 and take around four to six weeks until it is complete.

Conservator Thomas Humphrey, who is based at the Fairhurt Gallery, has been given the task of returning it to its former glory.

He said: 'Considering its age and its slightly colourful history it has survived surprisingly well.

'It will be quite tricky [to restore] because it is not like an oil or watercolour painting, where the methods have been standardised.

'With plasterwork, he was probably making it up as he went along, and so there is a bit of guesswork involved.'

In certain parts of the painting, Mr Humphrey said the artist's thumbprints could still be seen.

Once it has been restored, the Norwich Society hopes to have it displayed in a prominent public place.

Readers are asked to email any suggestions to admin@thenorwichsociety.org.uk

Have you discovered a rare piece of artwork or historical artefact? Call Luke Powell on 01603 772684

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