Painting used for bayonet practice

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The Independent Online
ANDREW JENKINS, assistant manager of the Queen's Hotel, Cheltenham, stands below a picture, once used by American GIs for bayonet practice, which has been identified as a significant 18th-century painting. For as long as anyone can remember, the eight-foot-square painting has hung on the staircase of the hotel, which was requisitioned as a rest house for American servicemen during the Second World War, writes Dalya Alberge.

The hotel has no record of how the picture got there. Even after extensive restoration in 1982, no one took much notice of it until recently, when the hotel was contacted by Professor Richard Verdi, director of the Barber Institute of Fine Art at Birmingham University. In preparing for a major exhibition based around Tancard and Ermini by Nicholas Poussin, the French master (at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery this October), he was searching for a painting of that subject listed in the institute files as 'in a hotel in Cheltenham in 1952'.

However, according to Professor Verdi, the hotel's picture is neither a Poussin nor a Gandolfi, as it had previously thought. In publishing the hotel's Tancard and Ermini in the exhibition catalogue, Professor Verdi hopes that someone will produce a convincing attribution. The painting is too cumbersome to move: instead, the institute will move some of the exhibition's visitors - its Friends - to the hotel.

(Photograph omitted)