“Fake or Fortune” on the ABC

If you missed yesterday’s gripping art mystery, you can still catch up with art dealer Philip Mould, journalist Fiona Bruce and researcher Dr. Bendor Grosvenor delving into the work of John Constable whose popularity has made him a prime target of forgers. He’s considered the most widely faked British artist – and the most difficult to authenticate.

Fake or FortuneIt’s on ABC iView for two more weeks – click here to view.

It reminded us of our own journey a few years ago when a lady asked us to value her two pencil drawings by Australian artist Frederick McCubbin. They had been in the family for longer than anyone could remember, and although unsigned, were thought to be by McCubbin.

During the valuation process, we advised that restoration and re-framing of the works would be appropriate. There was very little to prove that the drawings were indeed by the creator of “Down on his Luck”, and it felt like we were going to end up with the dreaded attribution “unknown artist”.

Then our paper conservator phoned: “I have something VERY interesting for you to look at, and I think that you should come over right away.” Which we did, and saw that she had carefully removed the backing from the drawings to reveal the signature of – John Constable, RA.

But were they authentic? There was only one way to find out: ask the expert, in this case Graham Reynolds, the world authority and author of the catalogue raisonné of John Constable’s oeuvre. After several agonising weeks of anticipation, he confirmed that these were indeed genuine sketches by the British master.

In next week’s “Fake or Fortune”, the team hunt for a lost masterpiece by Thomas Gainsborough, again on the ABC on Tuesday, 17 February, 8.30 pm.

Written by

Brigitte Banziger

Hi, my name is Brigitte Banziger and I am an art consultant and manager at Banziger Hulme Fine Art Consultants, Australia's art valuation and art advice experts. We specialise in art valuations for insurance purposes, for family division, deceased estates, superannuation funds and market values, and advise clients regarding purchase and sales of art (art brokerage). Our services are sought by private clients, companies, public galleries and councils alike. Our aim is to provide professional service with friendly, approachable manner.

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