John Constable masterpiece restored to former glory on display at Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire

The restored Constable now back on display at Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire. Credit: National Trust

A masterpiece by the artist John Constable has gone back on public display after more than 270 hours of painstaking restoration work.

The Embarkation of George IV from Whitehall: the Opening of Waterloo Bridge, 1817 records the scene in London on the second anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, and is the largest known work by the Suffolk artist.

Experts at the National Trust’s Royal Oak Foundation Conservation Studio in Kent have been conserving the painting, which has transformed its appearance.

It has now gone on display at Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire.

Several layers of badly yellowed varnish had obscured the detail and turned the painting into a dulled view of the 19th century Thames, they said.

But with most of the old varnish layers removed, the scene has been transformed to show bright blue skies and a view of the early Thames skyline with details of what the river was like before the Victorian development alongside it.

“This has been a painting which has been dramatically transformed by the conservation treatment," said Sarah Maisey, senior remedial conservator for paintings at the National Trust.

Constable's Waterloo Bridge back on display at Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire

Among other works by Constable that can be seen at Anglesey is a view of Stoke-by-Nayland in Suffolk, which was thought to be a copy but which Constable experts have now confirmed is an original painting by the artist.

The Abbey is currently holding a celebration of its collection of works by Constable under the title Constable Revealed.