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Mystery of two pictures grow

PUBLISHED: 12:30 22 September 2001 | UPDATED: 10:33 03 March 2010

TWO centuries old paintings have caused something of a mystery in Woodbridge.

When Woodbridge town clerk, Chris Walker decided to give the Shire Hall a grand clear out during the holidays she was amazed to find a watercolour dating back to 1790 lurking in the cupboard.

TWO centuries old paintings have caused something of a mystery in Woodbridge.

When Woodbridge town clerk, Chris Walker decided to give the Shire Hall a grand clear out during the holidays she was amazed to find a watercolour dating back to 1790 lurking in the cupboard.

Little did she know that just yards away in New Street at The Fraser Gallery, the oil version of the same picture had just been bought.

The coincidence was only revealed when Mrs Walker took her painting to the gallery to be reframed.

The picture is one of Woodbridge, believed to be painted by one of the famous Johnson brothers, possibly either Isaac or John who lived during the 1700's.

Although the watercolour version found at the town council offices is in good condition, it has faded and it is quite difficult to decipher the full picture.

But the oil painting held at the Fraser Gallery has been professionally cleaned up and it is now easy to spot the scene of Woodbridge painted from the Sutton side of the River Deben.

The old tide mill can be clearly seen on the other side of the water while a war ship lurks to the left-hand side.

At the very front of the picture there are two men at arms with their dog who appear to be guarding the riverside.

St. Mary's church, which apparently was used as a guide into Woodbridge by sailors as they came up the River Deben, can also be clearly seen in the background.

Mrs Walker said she could not believe it when she found the picture. She thinks that it had travelled with them when they moved from Eden Lodge to the Shire Hall and has been hidden away since 1987.

She said: "We are really chuffed, this is a major find for us.

"When I found it, it was right at the back of the cupboard with loads of stuff in front of it.

"It is such a coincidence that at the time I took it down to be reframed that the owners of the shop had bought the original in the last few days."

John Middleditch, picture framer at The Fraser Gallery said that he had been trying to do some research into the picture and it is believed that there should also be a third painting to go with the other two.

He said: "We are not sure which one came first, the oil painting or the water-colour.

"From a historical point of view this is fantastic for Woodbridge."

The oil painting, which was priced at £2,400 has now been taken off sale until more can be found out about it.

Do you know where the other painting is? If so call Jessica Nicholls on 01473 282292.

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