It’s good to see Fake or Fortune back on our screens – not on Sundays at 8.00pm but Thursday evening at 9.00 pm.
Its formula of the investigation into whether a painting is genuine or not clearly attracts the viewing public. It’s a bit contrived with the informal chats between presenter Fiona Bruce and art dealer Philip Mould clearly on camera (anyone involved in television will tell you personalities change in front of camera and the best broadcaster is the one who minimises this) but, before the big reveal, you learn about art, see country homes, watch the forensic tests and the detective work.
Whatever the owner of the picture might say the real interest for them is whether they possess a valuable work or not as in Antiques Roadshow.
It had been in the family for ever, but the present owner believed it to be by Mariah Cosway. Philip Mould thought otherwise. He thought it was by the renowned portraitist Sit Thomas Lawrence and – guess what – he was right.
18th century society portraiture is not my bag but Mould’s appreciation of the picture’s brushstrokes and attention to detail were absorbing. The previous week a work by Thomas Gainsborough, which intriguingly had another underneath, was found to be the work of a Bristol copier.
It’s probably not costly to produce either. Fiona Bruce would command a high fee, Philip Mould gets a platform for his knowledge and gallery and the owners of the painting a free valuation and attribution.