Super sleuth Philip Mould reveals spellbinding stories from the dusty corridors of art history in September’s upcoming ‘Fake of Fortune?’ on BBC. His “sleepers” (undiscovered paintings) become the subject of (and silent witness in) a forensic investigation into their true identity... Masterwork or counterfeit? Only Britain’s most masterful masterpiece-detective will find out! The story weaved around the paintings and their provenance proves a thrilling watch as benefactors from all walks hinge on the result Mr Mould reveals.
The new series will air in September 2012 (Episode 1: Sunday 16 September on BBC1) where he will be joined by his partner-in-crime, journalist Fiona Bruce. This crack art sleuthing duo has unearthed three fascinating stories revealed through the murky secrets of paintings that may or may not be by Degas, Turner and Van Dyck that is sure to keep viewers on the edge of their seats. Philip Mould and in-house researcher Bendor Grosvenor apply the latest forensic technology as well as years of combined art history knowledge together with Fiona Bruce’s keen journalistic approach to answer these tough questions.
Episode 1: DEGAS: THE LITTLE DANCER
Inheriting a work of art by one of the great Impressionist masters should be a joy, but for Patrick Rice it was a mixed blessing. His small oil painting depicting a ballet dancer on stage has always been thought to be a work by Edgar Hilaire Degas. Unfortunately, since the 1970s experts haven’t agreed. The painting, which could be worth around half a million pounds if correct, is currently worth £200.
In a last ditch attempt to discover the truth, Patrick and his son Jonathan ask Fiona Bruce and Philip Mould to handle the case. A journey that takes them via Paris, Hamburg & Berlin.
Episode 2: TURNER: A miscarriage of justice?
In the early years of the 20th century, spinster sisters Gwendoline and Margaret Davies spent much of their vast fortune buying the cream of European art as a gift to the people of Wales. When Gwendoline died in 1951 all the paintings in her collection were bequeathed to the National Museum of Wales. Amongst the works most proudly displayed were many by J.M.W.Turner, perhaps the nation’s best loved artist. These paintings were the pinnacle of the sisters’ collection, carefully selected and greatly valued.
Yet within months of this extraordinary act of generosity, the authenticity of the paintings was thrown into doubt by art world experts who branded them fakes. These prized exhibits were deemed “unfit to hang on the gallery’s walls”. For more than half a century a cloud has hung over three of the landscapes, said by experts to be a hand other than Turner’s. But Philip believes this may be a miscarriage of justice. As Philip & Fiona investigate they enter a murky world as they discover the paintings are connected to Turner’s secret lover. In the end it will be down to the latest forensic testing in order to prove if the paintings were by Joseph Mallord William Turner. But will the process restore the Davies sisters’ reputations as art connoisseurs and allow the pictures to see the light of day once again?
Episode 3: VAN DYCK: WHAT LIES BENEATH
Art detective Philip Mould has a reputation for finding sleepers; paintings that hide dark secrets. His most remarkable finds are pictures whose true authorship has been confused, masterpieces lost beneath years of dirt and over-painting. Although Philip is used to investigating other people’s paintings, this time the tables are turned as Philip’s own purchase is put under the microscope.
With his keen-eyed researcher Bendor Grosvenor, Philip has bought a painting that he says could be the find of a lifetime; an important lost work by our most important portrait painter, Sir Anthony Van Dyck, and worth a small fortune. The only problem is in order to prove it he’ll have to remove later layers of paint to uncover the truth. “It’s a bit like open heart surgery” says Philip as the expensive and irreversible process begins. A thorough restoration is needed and inches of canvas cut away as an earlier image begins to appear. Fiona isn’t convinced and insists the work undergoes a thorough investigation and needs to be authenticated by an independent Van Dyck expert. Will Philip’s reputation and the painting make it to the end of the journey unscathed?