A PAINTING that was brought along to the Antiques Roadshow in Cirencester last year has been revealed as the most valuable artwork ever seen in the show’s 36 year history.

The rare piece, confirmed as an original Van Dyck masterpiece, has been given an estimated value of £400,000 after being spotted by the show’s host Fiona Bruce at the Royal Agricultural University on June 13 last year.

The TV presenter, who recently made a television programme about artist Anthony Van Dyck, thought the piece might be genuine and showed it to an expert.

She said: “It’s everyone’s dream to spot a hidden masterpiece. I am thrilled that my hunch paid off. To discover a genuine Van Dyck is incredibly exciting.”

Anthony Van Dyck was the leading court painter in England under the rule of King Charles I and is regarded as one of the great artists of the 17th century.

The picture, showing a Brussels magistrate, is believed to be a preparatory piece for a larger work painted in 1634.

It was brought to Cirencester by Father Jamie MacLeod who paid around £400 for it in an antiques shop.

Father Jamie, who lives in the Peak District, said: “It’s been an emotional experience and it is such great news.”

He now plans to sell the painting to pay for restoration work on the bells at his Derbyshire church.

Philip Mould, a television art dealer, said: “Discoveries of this type are exceptionally rare. It’s been revealed as a thrilling example of Van Dyck’s skills of direct observation that made him so great a portrait painter.”

A painting that had been blackened by the Great Fire of London was also seen when the Antiques Roadshow came to Cirencester.

Artwork expert Paul Viney estimated that it could be worth anywhere in the region of up to £2,000.