Thatchers working on the roof of a Chifrome cottage have discovered a painting tucked in the eaves which experts now believe to be a genuine pencil sketch by the late Professor Brian Thrupiece.
Wrapped in brown paper and tied with string, the otherwise unremarkable parcel carries a label bearing the words "Mr S-L Sizemore, The Cottage, Chilfrome, Dorset" in what is clearly the late Professor's own hand.
Excitement at the discovery of the sketch - an informal nude of a young woman (probably Ms Sizemore) - is matched only by amazement that the work should have been so well-preserved and hidden for so long.
Local historian and former neighbour of Ms Sizemore - Miss Alene Snoop - says that Ms Sizemore lived alone in the cottage in the late 1990s but was often visited by an older gentleman who she took to be either an artist or a sanitary inspector. "Looking back and in light of the discovery I think I was probably right first time - in any event he showed no interest in my septic tank". Ms Sizemore is believed to have vacated the premises shortly after visiting Switzerland in 2005 and it has since been occupied by a series of tenants who evidently never felt the need to explore the loft space. Bengt Reed of Reed Thatchers Ltd told reporters that his firm had been employed by The Threadbone Property Portfolio Partnership (TTPPP) to re-thatch the historic property prior to its proposed sale later this year and added that he and his son had discover the parcel wrapped in a tarpaulin and wedged in the eaves. Neither had any idea why the parcel was there or why it had never - apparently - been unwrapped.
So is the sketch authentic? Thrupiece expert and amateur water-colourist Deft Brush-Strokes believes the matter beyond doubt. "First there's the signature, then the general style and stroke work - confident but expressive - and then there's the absolutely signature nipple detail. The Professor was renowned for his nipple work - he lavished particular attention on it but also sketched nipples with an expressive freedom bordering on the abandoned. These are terrific nipples - perhaps the best example of his nipple stroke work we have to date".
Ms Sizemore who, it is believed can shed further light on the matter, was unavailable for comment. She is said to be visiting Switzerland with a friend.
An unexpected discovery: [TOP] The parcel discovered by Bengt and Tom Reed in a Chilfrome cottage was sent to Ms Shelley-Lulette Sizemore and appears to have remained unopened since its delivery. BOTTOM: Experts believe it to be a fine example of Professor Thrupiece's nipple work.