Thursday, 27 September 2012

Fake or Fortune?

Have you been watching the new BBC1 programme, Fake or Fortune, Sundays with Fiona Bruce and Art Expert, Philip Mould?  If you haven't then I highly recommend you try and catch it.  The programme examines the provenance or attribution of notable artworks and due to cutting edge forensic techniques, experts are now able to establish the authenticity of pictures in ways not thought possible before.  As a result paintings by some of the great masters that were either unknown or considered fakes are being re-evaluated.  It is a fascinating programme to watch and you want to have a look in the attic to see what lost Old Masters might be languishing up there!

I don't have an attic or any old Masters unfortunately BUT I do have a picture which I bought years ago that has a question mark hanging over it.  I saw this picture on a website and loved it.

It wasn't attributed to anyone and it was described as a painting.  The style looked kind of familiar but I had no idea who had painted it, I just knew I liked the image and wasn't bothered about putting a name to it.   It was in a shop in London so Mark and I went along one weekend to have a look.  As we looked at it, it became clear that this was actually a print, an old print but none the less it wasn't the painting it had been described as.  Due to this, we got some money off and I was happy with my new picture.

Every once in a while over the years I would half heartedly try and find out who painted it until one day I was sitting down watching the tv and my picture appeared on screen!  Well, I was shocked and a little annoyed as I was still no nearer to finding out who it was by.  There was no mention of the artist, it wasn't even referred to, it was just hanging there.  I knew that it must be by someone relatively famous but it would be another few months until I found out who.  It happened whilst I was reading Homes and Antiques,  I turned a page lo and behold my picture was staring back up at me and this time there was a name!

La Loge au Mascaron Dore
It was an advert advertising a Henri de Toulouse Lautrec exhibition and my picture was the image they had used.  Now I was excited!  Ok so the images weren't exactly the same but I didn't care.  I got on the computer and found out that Lautrec had painted the original in 1893 and it was called La Loge au Mascaron Dore, The box with the gold mask.  Armed with this information I then did.............nothing!  I was quite happy that I had found who it was by and that was the end of that.

That is until the Antiques Roadshow came to Brighton and I decided to take my picture along just to see what the experts thought.  After queuing for hours in the blazing sun, I finally got directed to the art department where I waited for another hour!  All the time I was thinking that it was going to be worth the wait, they'd tell me what an amazing find it was, I'd be filmed for the show and start crying when I hear how much its worth because I'm so shocked and happy that I have a picture worth over a million pounds etc etc etc.

Philip Mould
Rupert Maas
That didn't happen.  Philip Mould looked at it and said he wasn't sure so I had to wait for Rupert Maas to come and have a look. All this time I'm thinking that I have something really special and that more importantly I'm going to be on t.v!  Rupert Maas finally came over and.................told me that it was a Lautrec and that was about all he could tell me. He did say it was a print but wasn't sure if it was a reproduction or original and he couldn't tell me how much he thought it was worth.  He did say that I should take it to the British Museum and get the to have a look as they'd be able to take it out the frame etc etc.  With that I took my picture and its been in the living room ever since!

I will probably take it to the British museum one day and I'll let you know how I get on but for now I'm able to dream that I have a rare and one of a kind print that is worth millions!

p.s.  It took me a while to get over the fact that I wasn't going to be on t.v and become an overnight sensation.  I'm fine now and have accepted it ;)


  1. I love this post. We really must organise our visit to the British Museum.

  2. Thanks Mark, yes we must and then I'll be off when I hear how much its worth! xxxx

  3. Salut, c'est plus beau que l'oeuvre final, un projet abandonné par l'artiste!? quelle est ça dimension? De toute façon Bravo pour votre bon gout et coup d'oeil.
    Jorge Soares