Art: Olympus in the Lounge

The Hendon Hall Hotel, in the sedate North London suburb of Hendon, is the last place in the world anyone would expect to find an Old Master. Potted palms adorn the glassed-in veranda; the lounge where guests gather for after-dinner coffee is a gloomily cozy room paneled in dark veneer. Few of the guests had ever noticed the painting on the low ceiling of the room.

Last January, however, the Hendon's manager decided that the ceiling picture needed a cleaning. Scraping away the murk, an art restorer exposed a finely detailed 6-ft.-by-4-ft. painting that swirled with gods, cherubs and figures symbolizing the...

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