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Schalcken The Painter (BBC-2 1979, Jeremy Clyde, Maurice Denham)



In Schalcken The Painter, dutch prodigy Godfried Schalcken is studying under Gerrit Dou and is soon to surpass him in talent. Schalcken is in love with Dou’s niece Rose but when a mysterious visitor, Vanderhausen, arrives (whose face initially remains in shadow but is later revealed to show looking as if he has almost been embalmed) offering a vast sum of money for the hand in marriage of Rose the greedy Dou agrees.

Some months after the wedding Dou is concerned that nothing more is heard of Rose and sends Schalcken to investigate but he can find no trace of either of them. Later Rose turns up in a distressed state and still wearing her wedding dress she then goes missing out of an open window….

Many years later Schalcken is a painter of some renown and married to a merchants daughter but he finds himself witness to an incredible scene when once again a mysterious visitor offers him a large sum of money. This time to paint a portrait. Before he can get started he has to go to the funeral of his old mentor Dou. Entering a vault of the church he discovers Rose but is this just a vision or something more sinister…

Made as part of the BBC’s Omnibus arts strand as a superb way to take a sideways look at the art of Schalcken. Its really an examination on the nature of art and whether the things Schalcken experienced had an affect on one of his key paintings – that of a woman being menaced by something unseen. The whole thing is beautifully shot to give the impression of a Dutch old master.


production details
UK / BBC-2 – RM Productions / 1×70 minute episode / Broadcast 23 December 1979

Writer and Director: Leslie Megahey / Story: Sheridan Le Fanu / Set Design: Anna Ridley / Art Consultant: Paul Martin / Costume Design: Christine Rawlins

JEREMY CLYDE as Godfried Schalcken
JOHN JUSTIN as Vanderhausen
VAL PENNY as Lesbia
VICTOR DEAR as Manservant
ROY EVANS as Coachman
ERIC FRANCIS as Goldsmith
ROSEMARY JENNER as Maidservant
ANTHONY SHARP as Gentleman
ANN TIRARD as Brothel Madame
CHARLES GRAY as The Narrator


Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.

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