Fake or Fortune? Season 8 Episode 1 – The Lost Gainsborough
The team investigate an 18th-century landscape that could be a lost work by of one of the biggest names in British art, Thomas Gainsborough.
The Lost Gainsborough
Fake or Fortune? Series 8 Episode 1 of 4
The team investigate an 18th-century landscape: could it be a lost work by the great British master of landscape painting, Thomas Gainsborough?
The painting has been in the family of owner Mark Cropper for generations, and until the 1970s it was considered to be a Gainsborough. But then a valuation downgraded it to a Barker of Bath – an attribution Philip calls a ‘bin name’. Mark’s father tore off the Gainsborough label in disgust, but Mark would love to be able to put the name Gainsborough back on the painting.
Philip is intrigued by this painting as it’s a landscape he recognises. Mark’s picture looks very much like a famous print by Gainsborough, copied from one of his paintings, believed to be lost for many years. The trouble is that in 1999, Philip helped authenticate a different picture as ‘the lost Gainsborough’. Could he and the experts who authenticated that picture have got it wrong?
The Gainsborough print of the lost picture was very famous, and over the years it has been copied many times. Could Mark’s picture be merely a copy of the print? By studying the various copies and prints and examining how they differ, Philip deduces that Mark’s picture isn’t a copy of the print, which means it’s either a copy of the original or the original itself.
Meanwhile, Fiona tries to trace the provenance of the picture. Her journey takes her to grand country houses, archives and auction houses up and down the country as she follows the trail of several labels on the back of the frame. She also meets the son of the former owner of the Gainsborough landscape that was authenticated in 1999, She is keen to know what provenance was attached to that picture.
At the Courtauld Institute, infrared and x-ray photography reveal a startling discovery beneath the layers of Mark’s painting. Finally, the dossier of evidence is handed over to Hugh Belsey, the expert who will determine the fate of the painting.