Sunday, August 12, 2018

Art on Television #1: Fake or Fortune returns

BBC has two new series starting this week

Fake or Fortune

The team for Series 7 is the same as the last series - Fiona Bruce and Philip Mould
What's changed is that it now occupies a prime time slot of 9pm on BBC1 (albeit in  dead month TV wise).

There are 5 episodes in this series programmes but we only know the artists involved in the first two episodes so far. What we know so far is.....

Episode 1 - British artist William Nicholson

The subject of Episode 1 of Series 7 - and those pears look a bit suspect to me...
Can the team prove that a beautiful still life of a glass jug and pears is the work of celebrated British artist William Nicholson? 
Portrait of William Nicholson
Normally the first episode is a cracker - but I confess I've never heard of the artist, although had worked out it was likely that William Nicholson had a connection to Ben Nicholson (he's the father) !  I'm wondering if this one is a very good example of techniques used in a case.

The problem with the painting is it cost £165,000 to buy - and Patricia Read, the expert on Nicholson, left it out of the Catalogue raisonne - which effectively reduces the painting to the value of a decorative item.

If you want to do your homework and get acquainted with him before tonight.....

Nicholson's wife, the painter Mabel Pryde, is standing by the door. Sitting at the table from left to right are the Nicholson children: Nancy, who married the writer Robert Graves; Tony, who died during the war in 1918; and Ben, who would become Britain's foremost abstract artist. Standing in the foreground is Christopher or 'Kit'

'A Bloomsbury Family' depicts the artist William Nicholson and his family.

Episode 2 - Toulouse Lautrec

Photo of Henri Toulouse Lautrec
Has somebody found two sketchbooks used by Toulouse Lautrec?
Two sketchbooks found in a garden shed in St Emilion were given to a teenage boy, Alain, by his grandmother back in 1965. Although she never revealed where they came from, they were thought to be the work of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, the aristocratic artist born in 1864 known for his atmospheric depictions of Parisian nightlife.

Henri Toulouse Lautrec drew brilliantly - and I know I'd love to see his sketchbooks. The last time I saw his drawings was in The Musée Toulouse-Lautrec is an art museum in Albi, southern France. Highly recommended for a visit by anybody who likes drawing / sketching from life and working in dry media.

Below is a pastel sketch/drawing he did of Vincent Van Gogh on cardboard (and there's a LOT of work by Lautrec or cardboard and/or brown paper)

Portrait of Vincent van Gogh (1887) by Toulouse Lautrec
pastel on cardboard; Height: 54 cm (21.2 in); Width: 45 cm (17.7 in)


Scientific Techniques

On the web portal, you can read about the scientific techniques used to detect what's there to detect
  • Gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS) - a useful method for identifying the binding medium used to hold all the pigments together.
  • Infrared radiation (IR) - Infrared cameras detects carbon-based materials such as graphite, charcoal and ink and provides a non-invasive method of looking under the surface of a painting.
  • Microscopy
  • Multispectral scan - The camera is able to scan the painting to identify the pigment used and then restore the true colour in the resulting image.
  • Raman laser spectroscopy - a non-destructive, non-invasive technique which provides quick results
  • Thread count analysis - compare the thread count (horizontally and vertically) to a known work by the artist painted on canvas at a similar time. Painters tend to like using the same canvas.
  • X-radiation (X-ray) -  a non-destructive way of penetrating penetrate low-density materials (eg canvas and the canvas support) and inspecting a painting to examine the condition of a picture

Fake or Fortune - previous series

You can find out more about the artists covered in previous series

Series 1 - Monet, Winslow Homer, Han van Meergeren and Rembrandt van Rijn
Series 2 - Degas, Turner and van Dyck
Series 3 - Vuillard, Constable, Chagall and Gainsborough
Series 4 - Lowry, Renoir, Montemezzano, Munnings
Series 5 - Freud, Delaroche, Rodin, portraits said to be painted by Willem de Kooning, Philip Mercier and Adolph von Menzel.
Series 6 - John Constable, Tom Roberts, Paul Gauguin - and the final episode was suspended (Alberto Giacometti)

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