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  1. ITV Report

Downton Abbey producer reunited with newly restored painting of great-grandmother in Hull

Portrait of Ivy Close on display at the Ferens Art Gallery in Hull Photo: ITV News Calendar

The producer behind the hit ITV drama Downton Abbey has been to Hull to be reunited with a painting of one of his ancestors for the first time. Gareth Neame has helped pay for the restoration of a portrait of Ivy Close, a glamour girl of her day, and his great grandmother which is now on display at the Ferens Art Gallery in Hull.

Television producer Gareth Neame on his visit to the Ferens Art Gallery Credit: ITV News Calendar

"We've always known about this painting but we didn't know where it was and when I spoke to Kirsten, the curator of the gallery, she said look, we just can't show the painting at the moment. It's been damaged. It needs quite a lot of delicate conservation work. You know, they invited to get involved in contributing to its restoration which I was very pleased to do. My grandfather, who's no longer with us, would have been absolutely thrilled to think that the painting's been restored and that she's hanging in such a pride of place here."

– Gareth Neame, TV Producer.
Gareth Neame pictured with his great-grandmother Ivy Close Credit: Family photograph

Gareth is a hugely successful television producer having won Emmy, Golden Globe and BAFTA awards for his work which includes producing the hit ITV drama Downton Abbey in which he named one of the kitchen maids Ivy in honour of his great grandmother who died when he was just 18 months old.

Ivy Close had her portrait painted as a prize after being named the most beautiful woman in the world by a national newspaper. She went on to become a model and an actress. But the painting became damaged and could not previously be displayed

"The painting hadn't been fit for display for a number of years because there was a very disfiguring mark on the sitter's face which was a kind of run or a streak which had appeared in the varnish layer so the conservation treatment involved the removal of that and some of the old re-touchings that had been done by past conservation work."

– Kirsten Simister, Ferens Art Gallery

Gareth now hopes new visitors to the gallery will enjoy looking at and learning about his famous great-grandmother.

Watch James Webster's full report about Gareth's visit to the Ferens Art Gallery: