A French museum dedicated to the work of painter Étienne Terrus has found that more than half of its paintings are fake pic.twitter.com/jJYCwy2r0e— RTÉ News (@rtenews) April 29, 2018
A small French town, Elne, just found out that more than half of its museum’s collection showcasing a local artist’s work is fake.
The Etienne Terrus Museum showcases the work of the local artist who lived from 1857 to 1922. Upon inspection, an art historian informed 82 out of the 140 paintings in the collection were fakes.
The town’s mayor, Yves Barniol, called the discovery a “catastrophe” for the small community of nearly 8,000 people.
“Etienne Terrus was Elne’s great painter. He was part of the community, he was our painter. Knowing that people have visited the museum and seen a collection, most of which is fake, that’s bad. It’s a catastrophe for the municipality,” said Barniol.
Eric Forcada, the historian who informed the authorities of the fake pieces, said he immediately knew some of the paintings were not original.
“On one painting, the ink signature was wiped away when I passed my white glove over it,” he said.
To confirm his fears, Forcada requested the cultural authorities to arrange a panel of experts to examine the pieces in the collection.
“At a stylistic level, it’s crude. The cotton supports do not match the canvas used by Terrus. And there are some anachronisms,” Forcada said.
The paintings in questions are estimated at about $194,000(€160,000). The pieces were bought by the museum over a period of twenty years.
According to Forcada, before the controversy, a Terrus painting could be sold for almost $18,200 a piece with drawings and water colors selling for around $2400.
Barniol said an investigation is going on after the forgeries were discovered.
“We’re not giving up,” he said.
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