The Art Of The Nation

Episodes

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01Discovery2014072120141112 (R4)

BBC Arts Editor Will Gompertz investigates the art-works in our homes, and considers the stories they tell about our national identity.

Most of the nation's greatest works of art are in our museums and galleries, but there are also thousands of significant works - some valuable, some not - in homes across the country.

Will Gompertz discovers extraordinary stories behind the art-works on our domestic walls, and the tales they tell about our nation - an unwritten biography charting up and downs, highs and lows.

In the first programme of the series, he reveals the importance of discovery, hearing about the joy of uncovering apparently lost masterpieces, and acquiring works by chance.

Will meets an unemployed couple from Lincoln who believe they have tracked down - via the internet - works by Van Gogh, Manet and Cézanne. Will also finds out about the businessman who happened to become a good friend of Picasso, who gave him one of his prized plates. The plate sat in a drawer for 40 years, because its new owner thought it looked horrible. Now his son has re-discovered it. And there's the tale of home owner who happened to find a work by Francis Bacon on a wall - long hidden behind fitted furniture.

Producer Neil George.

02War2014072820141113 (R4)

Most of the nation's greatest works of art are in our museums and galleries, but there are also thousands of significant works - some valuable, some not - in homes across the country.

BBC Arts Editor Will Gompertz discovers extraordinary stories behind the art-works on our domestic walls, and the tales they tell about our nation - an unwritten biography charting up and downs, highs and lows.

In this edition, Will focuses on art and war. There's the tale of the shipwrecked sailor, who turned to painting. Trude remembers her father, who perished in Auschwitz, through the only item left from her former home in Czechoslovakia - a large 19th century oil painting, an allegory of Jewish oppression.

Or there is the small stone with tiny carvings on it, owned by Nazrin who spent eight years in an Iranian jail. The stone was carved by a fellow inmate, who gave it to her as a token of affection, even though she could have been put to death for doing so. And there are paintings of Charles II and Lord Montagu, once arch enemies who ended up as allies, and an image of World War One battle-field, painted on the day that war ended. All are kept in domestic settings, and all have a story to tell.

Producer Neil George.

03 LASTFathers And Sons2014080420141114 (R4)

Most of the nation's greatest works of art are in our museums and galleries, but there are also thousands of significant works - some valuable, some not - in homes across the country.

BBC Arts Editor Will Gompertz discovers extraordinary stories behind the art-works on our domestic walls or shelves, and the tales they tell about our nation - an unwritten biography charting ups and downs, highs and lows.

In this edition, Will looks at art passed from fathers to sons. Many art-works - and the tales behind them - are handed down in this way, and the programme includes the story of how Luke, son of celebrated artist Mark Gertler, began to understand his father's life through the art he now owns.

Producer Neil George.