Thursday, 7 January 2010

Kiss me Hardy!

Being Indiana Jones in a corset and veiled hat, it was not just at the British Library that I unearthed hitherto unknown treasures. (The British Library: Unexpurgated Edition, 4th January 2010). To the delight of the trustees, in one of my roles I discovered that the organisation had in its possession an original oil painting of Lord Nelson, which was, unbeknownst to the then Board, on loan to the National Maritime Museum. The picture, by the renowned 18th century artist Lemuel Francis Abbott, was painted during the Admiral’s lifetime. This meant Nelson would have sat for it, thereby greatly enhancing its value. I had to temper the Board’s dream of auctioning off the painting for a small fortune, when I also ascertained that the precise ownership of the painting had been a matter of legal dispute for over 90 years, following the death of its one time-owner in the 1920s. Sadly I did not have the opportunity to take up the invitation of the Maritime Museum and view the portrait in person, where it formed the centrepiece of an exhibition on Lord Nelson at Portsmouth, where his ship, HMS Victory is also docked. Thus, I never had the chance to find out whether it was indeed true that all the nice girls love a sailor.