Art experts believe they have tracked down a long-lost Turner painting – worth up to an incredible £20 million.
Artist Christian Furr bought the painting a few weeks ago from a private collection in Oxfordshire.
It is believed the piece could be Turner’s first attempt by of a work called ‘St Benedetto Looking Towards Fusina’ – the known version of which hangs in the Tate Liverpool with an estimated value of more than £50 million.
Christian was on tenterhooks ytoday after sending his discovery to experts at Sotheby’s to authenticate.
Boffins at the London auction house are carrying out a range of tests, including microscope readings and close scrutiny by experts on Turner.
Christian believes the artwork in question may not have been recorded in the discoveries of Turner paintings because most were donated to the nation after his death.
It is also possible the celebrated artist may have given this painting away and that it has been privately owned for the 180 years since Turner died.
After discovering the painting Christian enlisted the help of John Houston, from the Outside The Square gallery, in Margate, Kent, to find out more about it.
John and Christian believe the painting could be genuine because it is signed on the rear of the frame by a Miss Matthews (nee Turner), who could be related to the artist.
It is a period piece with a period frame and displays similar characteristics to the one in the Tate Liverpool, such as cracking formed by the aging of paints.
John said: “While Turner rarely painted two of the same paintings we believe that on this occasion he would have made an exception due to it being so highly championed by Victorian art critic John Ruskin.
“It is interesting also that ‘Miss Matthews’ is signed on the back of the painting along with a number that appears to be a Bonhams number fitting the period.
“We believe this could have an enormous impact both nationally and internationally.
“This is such an exciting thing for me – I came back to England two and a half years ago after 26 years in New Zealand and landed in Margate opposite the Turner Contemporary gallery.
“And the idea of coming to this town and acquiring something of this nature would be fantastic.”