Ruins of Commons rise from the ashes

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The Independent Online
A LONG-LOST painting of the ruins of the House of Commons after the 1834 fire that destroyed the old Palace of Westminster is to be restored after turning up in a South African antiques shop, writes Steve Boggan.

The painting, half of a panorama by the topographical artist George Scharf, measures 5ft by 2ft 6ins and has been acquired at a 'bargain price' for the Commons Works of Art Advisory Committee by Philip Mould, an art dealer and adviser to the committee. The other half, showing the Lords, is missing.

Patrick Cormack, the Tory committee chairman, said: 'There are some sketches and plates of the fire in our collection, but nothing like this.'

Scharf arrived as soon as fire took hold on 16 October 1834 and spent three weeks drawing. When the ruins - a collection of medieval and later buildings - became too dangerous, he perched on top of Westminster Hall. He failed to sell reproductions and sold the original at Christie's for pounds 2 10s in the 1860s, shortly before his death.

The painting, which came to light two years ago, is expected to be hung near the Commons tea room.

(Photograph omitted)