A painting of a glass jug purchased for £165,000 (about $210,566) may be nothing but a fake, an expert assessed.
During BBC One’s “Fake or Fortune?” show, a painting attributed to Sir William Nicholson did not convince one of the show’s leading experts, who claimed that there was not enough evidence for him to confirm the artist behind it.
The owner of the gallery where the painting was listed previously, Will Darby, claimed to be shocked.
“As far as I was concerned, this painting couldn't have been done by anyone else," he said.
John Myatt, a reformed art forger, admitted he once faked a Nicholson piece during his life as a criminal, but that he was not behind this specific work.
Fake of Fortune? spoiler: A painting bought for £165,000, and thought to have been painted by British artist Sir William Nicholson, could be nearly worthless after an art expert cast doubt on its authenticity. https://t.co/hekH5501SU pic.twitter.com/CH2H4bV1Qm— TaffettaCrafts (@TaffettaCrafts) August 13, 2018
Unlike the leading art expert, a handwriting analyzer confirmed to BBC that the signature in the still life painting matched Nicholson’s signature, which can be found in his paint box, located at his grandson’s residence.
His family also confirmed that the signatures did, indeed, match. Still, BBC concluded that it was impossible to assert the painting was Nicholson’s due to the lack of direct evidence. This is because the painting may have been executed by one of Nicholson’s amateur students, known as “Sunday painters," who often used his canvases and one may have been signed by the artist.
Former Prime Minister Winston Churchill was one of these students.
When talking about the show’s verdict, “Fake or Fortune?” presenter Fiona Bruce admitted to being “shocked.”
“I didn't expect it. I thought the case was so strong,” she said.
The painting’s owner told the program that when she purchased the piece in 2006, she “didn’t have any doubt” of its authenticity. However, a catalog of Nicholson’s work from 2011 listing all of his official paintings failed to include the glass vase piece.
Patricia Reed, the show's expert, said she was sure the piece was not genuine.
"There is nothing that gives direct evidence that he actually executed the work himself," she said.
Born in 1872, Nicholson worked as a children’s book author and illustrator as well as a wood engraver.
It is not clear whether any other type of test could be carried out to verify whether the painting could have been done by Nicholson. But if the show’s verdict remains, the piece, which was sold for hundreds of thousands, will be seen as worthless.
Once again, this proves that in the world of fine art, not all we are told is true. It is a shame for buyers and honest dealers, whose passion for art is often abused by creative and talented forgerers.
Banner and thumbnail image credit: Reuters/Keith Bedford