Painting home after decades Down Under

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an oil painting which took pride of place over the grand staircase at a stately home in Yorkshire is back home after nearly 50 years in Australia.

The portrait of 12-year-old Thomas Barnardiston Wrightson, who is the great-grandson of the builder of Cusworth Hall, William Wrightson, is one of the most significant donations to Doncaster Council’s museum service.

The painting by J Jackson dates from 1818 and it is believed to have been commissioned to commemorate Thomas’s admission to Winchester School, where his four older brothers were educated.

It was one of thousands of artefacts sold when the contents of Cusworth Hall were auctioned to the public in 1952.

The council, which owns and operates the hall, had no idea of the whereabouts of the painting until last year, when it was contacted by Gillian Baddeley from Australia.

She owned the painting but had emigrated in 1967.

She said: “Although I live in Australia, I’m a member of the Ripon Historical Society.

“Last year Cusworth Hall’s manager gave a talk to the society and it reminded me about the painting.

“This prompted me to email staff at the hall to see if they knew anything about the child in the picture.”

After exchanging emails with staff at Cusworth, Gillian kindly offered to donate the painting to the museums service.

The portrait is now on permanent display in its original location over the grand staircase.

She added: “Donating the painting of Thomas to Cusworth has given us great pleasure.

“Although it was a very nice portrait which we have enjoyed for many years, it is nice that Thomas is back where he belongs.

“Wouldn’t it be great if some of the other portraits also came ‘out of the woodwork’?”