An art exhibition of Italy's landscapes has a hidden love story behind the paintings.

The pictures of small Italian town Recanati by Chris Hall are being displayed at The Russell Gallery, in Lower Richmond Road, Putney.

Mr Hall's love of the town began in 1954 when he travelled there with a friend after graduating at The Slade art school.

A man offered his garage to the pair as they pulled into Recanati - little did he know this encounter would lead him to meeting the love of his life.

The man introduced the pair to his family and Mr Hall became their friends, admiring the man's 16-year-old niece Maria from afar.

Mr Hall began visiting the family on a regular basis to learn Italian, but really he was there to see Maria.

He eventually persuaded them to allow him to paint the girl, but only if she followed strict guidelines of walking through the town at 10am in the morning when everyone could see her.

After charming her with his painting skills the pair married three years later, and have three sons as well as six grandchildren.

Mr Hall, of Newbury, has continued a lifelong passion of painting the picturesque Recanati landscape, with the family regularly going back for holidays.

The 82-year-old, who is a full time painter, said: "It was a nice way of getting to know my wife. I saw it as a way to get her away from the family.

"They were happy for me to paint her, but she must walk through the town at 10 in the morning down steps below the city walls and half an hours walk to another gateway to the town and walk back."

Sarah Russell, from The Russell Gallery, said: "I have known Chris for over 30 years and worked with him at the New Grafton with David Wolfers, where Chris showed and had many one man shows.

"When I co-founded The Russell Gallery with my husband 10 years ago, I was keen to show Chris's work.

"He has been with us ever since and has over 25 paintings of Recanati in the show."

The paintings in the exhibit are of Mr Hall's last two trips to Recanati.
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