History does not confirm whether, as suspected, an over-zealous maid attacked it with furniture polish because her dusting arm wouldn’t reach – but the resulting smear on the lower half of William Perry’s 1861 painting, The Bird’s Nest, has been distracting viewers at Brodsworth Hall for years.
Now, it has been dusted off properly – one of four artworks from the Doncaster country house to undergo preservation work as part of a long-running programme of conservation by its owner, English Heritage.
The painting was treated at the Fine Art Studio in London, where experts were able to remove the smear by gently cleaning the surface, while also renovating the gilt frame.
Two other works by Perry in Brodsworth’s North Hall were also restored, while James Barenger’s previously-torn Bay Hunter in a Stable, in the North Bedroom Corridor, has been retouched to minimise the damage.
English Heritage said its intention was to conserve, not restore, Brodsworth’s art so that they could remain on display.
A spokesman said: “Visitors can enjoy the interiors of this 1860s house and immerse themselves in its stories.”