A LONG-lost painting of a Herefordshire landmark by Britain's beloved artist J.M.W. Turner has been found in a dusty attic and could sell for £50,000.

The unsigned watercolour of Hampton Court, Herefordshire, was painted by Turner in 1796.

George Viscount Malden, the 5th Earl of Essex, commissioned Turner to paint the stunning house and grounds after he inherited the estate.

Hereford Times: The long-lost painting was found in a dusty atticThe long-lost painting was found in a dusty attic (Image: SWNS)

When he sold the country pile and its contents to inventor and industrialist Richard Arkwright in 1810 the painting was put into storage.

The artwork, which measures 12.5ins (32cm) by 17ins (43cm), was then kept in a portfolio with other watercolours for the next two centuries.

When the Arkwright family moved into Kinsham Court in Herefordshire the paintings were stored in the attic of the main house.

It was finally discovered when a descendant of the Arkwright family decided to auction a selection of heirlooms.

It is being auctioned with a guide price of £30,000 to £50,000 but could fetch far more when it goes under the hammer at Minster Auctions in March.

Hereford Times: Hampton Court, near Dinmore, in HerefordshireHampton Court, near Dinmore, in Herefordshire (Image: SWNS)

Paintings expert James Pearn said he was "pretty surprised" to find the painting.

He said: "The watercolour was in a file together with a number of other things.

“It was in the middle of some mid-19th century watercolours and hunting prints which were nothing very exciting.

"I have to say, I had a pretty good idea of what it was. Although it was unsigned you can tell it’s a genuine Turner.


“The style, the composition and the way he painted the foliage and the brush work are the signatures of Turner.”

The painting depicted Hampton Court from a south-east direction across the River Lugg.

Mr Pearn said he expected Turner would only have been about 21 when he completed the painting.

The artist entered the Royal Academy drawing schools when he was 14 in 1789 and was exhibiting less than a year later.

Mr Pearn added: "That of course makes it all the more exciting. He does have quite a lot of distinctive features in this.

“Although it is unsigned, his signature is there in the paint.

“Turner’s technique was evolving rapidly.

“His accomplished topographical views attracting an increasing number of aristocratic patrons eager to employ the artist in the portrayal of their country houses and estates.”

The painting will be auctioned at Minster Auctions in Leominster, Herefordshire, on March 6 and is expected to attract global interest.