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Antiques Roadshow guest refuses to sell prize-winning pigeon portrait ‘Not going anywhere

Antiques Roadshow: Owner says he is keeping his painting

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A recent episode of the BBC valuation show saw a guest present picture expert Alexander Gill with a portrait of a racer pigeon named Hope’s Reward. However, when she told her guest how much the portrait, painted for his late grandfather, was worth he snapped to say “it’s not going anywhere”. 

When the guest presented Alexandra with the life size oil on canvas pigeon painting, she couldn’t resist asking him about the story behind the artwork. 

He explained: “Well this is my grandfather’s pigeon, [it was] my grandfather’s racer pigeon. 

“My grandfather raced pigeons and the family story has it that this pigeon, named Hope’s Reward, won a race in San Sebastián and this portrait was presented as a prize for that race.”

San Sebastián is a resort town on the Bay of Biscay in Spain’s mountainous Basque Country.

A shocked Alexandra replied: “That’s a fantastic story. Now Andrew Beer, the artist, worked at the first half of the 20th Century and he was a pigeon enthusiast and so much so that he would judge at competitions. 

“So in fact, to have your pigeon portrait painted by him is really quite an accolade. 

“It’s like he was the [Thomas] Gainsborough of the pigeon portrait world and people would send their pigeons to him. 

“They would be boxed up and put on a train and he would collect them from the railway station.”

The expert explained Beer’s paintings tend to have a similar format which is why they are recognisable. 

His paintings are generally all in profile with a “bland” landscape so the portrait stands out. 

Alexandra added: “And they tend to be, as much as they could, life size. And at the bottom, there would be the accolades that the pigeon had won.”

At the bottom of the painting, the artist had written Mr V.R.Wood, which Alexandra presumed was the guest’s grandfather. 

However, the guest replied: “It’s interesting because that is actually a spelling mistake. 

“It should say V.B.Wood which stands for Victor Bailey Wood, not R.”

Alexandra laughed at the error which has never been altered on the canvas over the years. 

She then composed herself to tell her guest just how much she believed the painting was worth. 

“At auction, I was looking at something in the region of £600 to £800,” she explained. 

However, the guest snapped at her in response: “No, it’s not going anywhere.”

But an understanding Alexandra replied: “I am not surprised, it’s got such a great story behind it.”

Antiques Roadshow episodes can be watched on BBC iPlayer. 

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