Britain's Lost Masterpieces

BBC (4 x 60 mins)

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Nominated for 2017 RTS Scotland Best Documentary & Specialist Factual: Arts award

In a second series of Britain’s Lost Masterpieces, art detective Dr Bendor Grosvenor and social historian Emma Dabiri, delve into Britain’s local museums and country houses to look for lost and hidden public treasures. They set out to uncover the forgotten but fascinating stories behind the paintings, people, and our public collections, with some amazing results.



Pollok House is a country house right in the middle of a Glasgow city park, bordered on one side by the M77 and on the other side by the south side of Glasgow. Owned by Glasgow City Council and looked after by the National Trust for Scotland, it truly is a house for the people, surrounded by the people. Pollok has an impressive collection of Spanish art, the legacy of Sir William Stirling-Maxwell, the man who once owned the house. Unfortunately, some of Pollok’s treasures have been placed in storage due to a leaking roof and urgent renovations. But could one of these displaced pictures be a priceless work by Rubens, lost for centuries, hiding north of the border?


Along with a hippo skeleton, a stuffed hedgehog and a log boat, Derby Museum has the best collection of Joseph Wright of Derby paintings in the world. Wright of Derby is one of the greatest English artists who ever lived. He painted the most astounding ‘birth of science’ scenes, his landscapes and portraits are exquisite and he was inspired by the Industrial Revolution.

But can our team peel back layers of modern restoration on a mysterious landscape painting stuck in the Derby vaults to reveal another hidden masterpiece by Wright of Derby? 


Carmarthenshire County Museum is a slice of history in itself. The building that houses it has been in continuous use since the 13th century, once a Bishop’s palace it was where the Bible was first translated into Welsh. But could it also be home to some mysterious cases of mistaken identity and two lost paintings from the time of Charles II? 


Hospitalfield House in the fishing town of Arbroath on Scotland’s east coast is a Victorian treasure trove. The couple who owned this great house back in the 19th century were obsessed with the decorative arts and Hospitalfield is full of ornate carved ceilings, sculpted fireplaces, exquisite plasterwork and stonework carved by master masons. It’s still a place where artists work today and it has a fine picture collection.

Among the many Victorian paintings, could a mysterious 16th century portrait by one of the great Old Master artists lie waiting to be discovered?