THE earliest known oil painting of Chester, housed in the city’s Grosvenor Museum, has gone back on display after being restored.
Chester and the Roodee was painted by Pieter Tillemans some time between 1710 and 1734. It was the first painting to enter the collection, being presented in 1894 by the 1st Duke of Westminster, the museum’s founding benefactor.
Peter Boughton, the museum’s keeper of art, said: “The painting was expertly restored by Dianne Storey of Britton & Storey Fine Art Conservation. She removed layers of heavily discoloured varnish and old retouchings and has transformed the picture, enabling our visitors to fully appreciate the wealth of detail in this scene of early 18th century Chester.
“We are enormously grateful to the Woodmansterne Art Conservation Awards, which generously funded this major project.”
The painting shows a view of Chester from the south-west. The knoll in the foreground rises above the river Dee, and in the mid-19th century was developed as the suburb of Curzon Park. Between the river and the city is an expanse of low-lying land called the Roodee.
Officially organised horse-racing on the Roodee began in 1540, giving Chester a longer continuous history than any other racecourse in the British Isles.
The painting shows horse-racing on the Roodee, the course marked by posts and crowds of spectators lining the western city wall, which had originally been constructed in the early 12th Century.
The artist Pieter Tillemans was born at Antwerp in 1684 and died at Norton, Suffolk, in 1734. He trained as a copyist of the Flemish artist David Teniers the Younger and of battle pictures, and came to London in 1708.