Close encounters of the fake kind

Virgin and Child was bought in 1893

Now here’s an exhibition I wouldn’t mind seeing – it’s called Close examination, Fakes, Mistakes and Discoveries’ and it is on at the National Gallery from tomorrow to 12th September.  The paintings were bought in good faith (for massive amounts of money) and have since been found to be fakes.

Venus and Mars by Botticelli - the real one

The exhibition is dedicated to the scientists whose tests  have proved that the works are not what they seem.  Using expensive equipment, x ray, infra red photography and other methods, they have been able to go beyond the surface of ‘masterpieces’ by   Botticelli,  Velásquez,  Rembrandt, Dürer, Holbein, and Poussin.


It’s not all bad news though, Madonna of the Pinks by Raphael, thought to be a copy has now been authenticated as the real thing.  Plus, mysteries abound as scientists try to discover the genuine from the fake and are left with a genuine – but who really painted it?  I would really like to investigate this exhibition and see just how much money has been wasted and see how the scientists arrived at their diagnosis!  particularly intriguing is a painting of a Victorian beauty who when x rayed turned out to have started life as a naked 16th century courtesan:)

Good article about the exhibition here

National Gallery here

double image from here and Botticelli image here

6 thoughts on “Close encounters of the fake kind

  1. So, a ‘Raphael’ hangs upon the wall of the gallery for years, and people look at it and swoon over it. Then it is discovered that it wasn’t by Raphael after all (suddenly no swoons). Is it the art work people appreciate? or the name? (and how much it’s cost) – is this where the true outrage lies? Money again.
    Still would like to see this exhibition though:)

    1. I wouldn’t mind seeing an exhibition like that, either. I appreciate all kinds of art. When I purchase something, it isn’t because the artist is known whereever I purchase it from. It is because I like the piece and the price was affordable. There is wonderful art being shared right here on wordpress by people studying it and enjoying it. There is art in our schools and on the sidewalk and along the banks of a river (artistexit0). The known artists set the tone and aspirations so the rest of us can soar!

      1. I too buy the odd print or whatever I like and can afford. Art is for everyone these days – not just the elite (though judging by some of these prices you wouldn’t think so) Good art is still to be had (and enjoyed, though some see it purely as an investment which is a shame). I am going to try to get to this exhibition Leslie. I will do like Banksy, and slip a piece of my own work in there…….. at least it will be the real thing:)

  2. That’s a good observation Lynda! It’s amazing that some of the works that are fakes and are of such poor quality, you wonder how they fooled anyone in the first place. I think the answer is these people “saw” what they wanted to see. On a similar tangent, have you seen the art documentary “Who the bleep is Jackson Pollack”? The basic story is a woman truck driver finds a painting at a junk store that looks like a Jackson Pollack painting. She takes it around to all the “experts” who immediately poo-poo it as not being of the “quality” of this modern master. She then hires experts in art forensics and the fun begins! I’ll leave it at that in case you haven’t seen this film.

  3. No, I haven’t seen this film Al – but it sounds just up our street!! I will have to track this down now (checking of course, that its not a copy…
    We saw the one with Ed Harris though which was good.
    I think you are right – a case of the Emperor’s new clothes………..
    plus a bit of oneupmanship ‘ Look what WE aquired’ 😉

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