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Above The Painted Hall, Old Royal Naval College (ORNC), Greenwich © Nikhilesh Haval


A round up of all the latest news from the world of fine art and antiques. Discover more at ANTIQUE news

Naval gazing The painted hall at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich has reopened after two years and a £8.5m revamp.

Described as the UK’s Sistine chapel, the hall is at the centre of the college, which was designed by Sir Christopher Wren as a ceremonial dining room in 1705.

Its decorative scheme, which took Sir James Thornhill 19 years to complete, celebrated England’s naval power and mercantile prosperity, as well as the newly-installed protestant monarchy.

Since the 1950s many of the paintings deteriorated, with large areas of ‘blanching’ or whitening covering the surface and obscuring the detail.

As the painted surfaces were cleaned, new details became uncovered revealing how Thornhill had planned and executed his majestic work.

Arty party An art tours company has relaunched with a series of artist-themed events.

Artscapes’ programme includes Van Gogh’s Britain and The Green Fairy on April 3, which invites participants to explore the London where the Dutch artist lived (and drank) and In the Steps of the Great Painters on May 18, which considers how the River Thames has influenced artists over the years. For more details visit

Above Artscapes’ founder Rose Balston

Did you know? Greenwich Palace was the favoured royal palace of Henry VIII, who was born at Greenwich along with his daughters Mary I and Elizabeth I.

Above The painted hall, William and Mary © Opus Conservation/Samuel Whittaker


Bottled up An unusual ancient love token is going up for sale next month.

According to 18th and 19th-century folklore, tear-catchers, known as ashkdans in Persian, were given to brides whose husbands were away for long periods at war.

The glass vessels would capture the deserted spouse’s tears, marking her ardour when her husband returned.

The bottles may have been inspired by the book of Psalms where David told God: “You have kept count of my tossings; put your tears in a bottle.”

Other theories include the collection of tears at funerals in Ancient Egypt, Persia and Rome and, in a more contemporary light, vessels in which to keep rosewater to scent a room.

Chiswick Auctions’ Beatrice Campi, said: “Although common in 19th-century Iran, they are not often seen at auction due to their fragility.” The trio, on sale on May 3, includes a Qajar green glass bottle from 19th-centiry Iran, with an estimate of £400-£600 and a pair of blue versions estimated at the same price.

Above The decorative trio has an estimate of £800-£1,200

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