Mystery as 'priceless' Henry Bird drawing goes missing from Northampton retirement home

This image is a restoration Sally had done - the lines are much darker and thicker than the original.
This image is a restoration Sally had done - the lines are much darker and thicker than the original.

The daughter of an amateur artist in Northampton is on the hunt for a missing Henry Bird picture, which belonged to her late father.

Sally-Anne Smith, 55, formerly of Duston, was once a model for famous Northampton mural and female nude artist Henry Bird in the 1970s after her dad's friend was tutored by him.

Sally-Anne pictured back in her modelling days.

Sally-Anne pictured back in her modelling days.

After a modelling stint, one of Henry Bird's signed pastel drawings of Sally-Anne was gifted to her dad Edward Anson-Smith as a present and it stayed with him at his retirement home until he passed away in 2016.

Now, the one-off 20x30 inch picture, which was kept in a cupboard at the retirement home, has since been lost and Sally-Anne is prepared to offer a small reward for its return.

She said: "I have had a troubled time with the death of my father.

"It was not just a drawing that went missing, it was a part of me. It has affected me very badly.

Sally-Anne pictured with her dad Edward before he passed away in 2016.

Sally-Anne pictured with her dad Edward before he passed away in 2016.

"It's made my dad's death harder to get over. It's priceless to me."

A spokeswoman for Northamptonshire Police said the county force received a report that a piece of artwork had disappeared from a property in St Crispin Drive between February 1, 2017 and March 4, 2017. It was reported on March 23 last year.

She said: "We did investigate it but unfortunately haven’t found anything yet because there were no witnesses that came forward or CCTV covering the area.

"Of course if anyone did have information, they would be encouraged to call us on the usual numbers or Crimestoppers if they wish to remain anonymous."

The image belonged to Sally-Anne's dad, who was affectionately known as Eddie.

The image belonged to Sally-Anne's dad, who was affectionately known as Eddie.

Henry Bird, who died in Northampton at the age of 90, was born in the Green Street area of town, near St Peter’s Church.

Having been a chorister at St Peters, he was said to have been captivated by the carved pillars and capitals at the church that in turn inspired his love of art.

He later gained a scholarship to the Royal College of Art, where he won many big prizes, including a travelling scholarship.

He later married the actress, Freda Jackson, after the pair met at the former Northampton Repertory Theatre.

The missing image.

The missing image.

A spokeswoman for St Crispin retirement village said: “We have supported the police with their enquiries regarding the missing painting and would be happy to support any further queries.

"We do hope that this painting is found and can be returned safely to the family.”