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£400 painting could fetch £500,000 after Fiona Bruce's Antiques Roadshow spot

The painting is believed to be a 17th century sketch for a work called the Magistrates Of Brussels. Credit: Christie's

A painting bought for £400 that was revealed to be a Van Dyck portrait when it was taken along to an episode of Antiques Roadshow is expected to sell for around £500,000 when it goes under the hammer later this year.

The work was bought 12 years ago by Father Jamie MacLeod from an antiques shop in Cheshire and was identified after the show's host, Fiona Bruce, saw it and thought it might be genuine.

Ms Bruce, who was making a show about the artist with expert Philip Mould, asked him to look at it and after a lengthy restoration process the painting was verified by Dr Christopher Brown who is one of the world authorities on Van Dyck.

Presenter Fiona Bruce brought the painting to the attention of a Van Dyck expert. Credit: PA

Father MacLeod, who runs a retreat in the Peak District, said: "It has been a blessing to own this magnificent portrait which has given me great pleasure over the years.

"I will be sad to part with it, though the proceeds will be put to excellent use, going towards the acquisition of new church bells for Whaley Hall Ecumenical Retreat House in Derbyshire to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World in 2018."

The painting is believed to be a sketch for a work called the Magistrates Of Brussels which hung in the city's Town Hall until it was destroyed by a French attack in 1695.

Christie's specialist Freddie de Rougemont said: "We are delighted to present this beautifully observed head study by Sir Anthony van Dyck for sale, particularly after its exciting re-discovery on the Antiques Roadshow.

"The picture is of great importance as it provides a fascinating insight into Van Dyck's working method and also constitutes a significant surviving document for the artist's lost group portrait of The Magistrates of Brussels."

It goes on public view at Christie's New York from tomorrow to June 3th, then in London from July 5th to 8th when it will be sold at the auction house's London sale of Old Master and British Paintings.