Fake or Fortune returns with Sir Joshua Reynolds painting


Fake or Fortune is back with a new episode on BBC One tonight featuring a Sir Joshua Reynolds painting.

Hosts Fiona Bruce and Philip Mould meet Glyn Hopkin, a car dealer with a passion for art, in London.

Glyn took a risk on a painting he hopes is the work of the renowned 18th-century artist, Sir Joshua Reynolds. He acquired this intriguing portrait of a boy impulsively through an online auction in Monaco. Described as ‘in the style of Sir Joshua Reynolds,’ he ventured and acquired it for ¬£2,700, potentially valuing it at ¬£100,000 if authentic.

Fiona Bruce and Philip Mould pose back to back

Initial clues appear promising. Reynolds was known for experimenting with materials that have deteriorated over time. Could the similar degradation in Glyn’s painting be evidence of Reynolds’s unique technique? A plaque on the frame reads ‘Puck,’ a character from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a subject famously painted by Reynolds. Fiona investigates whether Glyn’s Puck might be another version of the celebrated painting.

Digging into the painting’s history, Fiona discovers it had been in the possession of a Monaco family since 1950. Prior to that, it belonged to Mrs. Hudson, who resided at Villa Paloma in Monaco. Records trace back to 1934 when it was owned by Robert William Hudson and catalogued as ‘Puck by Reynolds.’ This historical connection adds credibility to the painting’s authenticity.

Can scientific analysis link Glyn’s painting to Reynolds? Philip consults with Professor Aviva Burnstock at the Courtauld Institute, where technical analysis reveals signs of restoration. He also explores Reynolds’s innovative use of materials at The Royal Academy of Art, where Reynolds served as the first president.

The team arranges for Dr. Alexandra Gent, a Reynolds specialist and conservator at the National Portrait Gallery, to examine the pigments on Glyn’s painting and compare them to authentic Reynolds works.

Concerns about the complex art market in Monaco and France lead Fiona to seek advice from art lawyer Pierre Valentin. She learns of a potential twist – if the painting is genuine, the seller may have legal grounds to reclaim it under French law.

Glyn decides to send the painting to restorer Simon Gillespie, who makes a significant discovery beneath layers of overpaint – a date that could be crucial to the investigation. The final verdict rests with Dr. Martin Postle, the author of the most recent catalogue raisonn√© of Reynolds’s work.

Will Glyn’s gamble on the authenticity of Puck by Sir Joshua Reynolds prove to be a valuable investment, or will legal complexities and murkier conclusions cloud the outcome of this intricate investigation?

Fake or Fortune airs on BBC One on Tuesday, 3 October at 8PM.

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