A hidden Benjamin West
February 27 2012
An illness in the family means I'm spending a lot of time around Harley Street in central London. So I was pleased to find yesterday hidden in a corner of Marylebone Church this Holy Family by Benjamin West, painted in 1818. It is listed in Allen Staley's catalogue raisonne of West's works, which reveals that it used to be the main alterpiece, but was later moved. It was also vandalised in 1859, which may account for its poor condition. But to me it mainly looks dirty, and it has been rather badly restored by a recent hand in the faces. I wonder how much it would cost to clean the picture. It's a fine thing - West at his best.