Fiona Bruce and Philip Mould with the Still Life sold as a William Nicholson at the Pall Mall Gallery
Up next in the series (aired in the UK on Sunday 19th August) came one of the toughest investigations the team have faced so far; a thorough quest to try and authenticate a collection of sketches reportedly by the French artist and celebrated cataloguer of nightlife characters during the Parisian Belle Époch, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901). The sketches, enclosed in two sketchbooks, were found in a garden shed in St Emilion, France and were given to a young boy named Alain by his grandmother in 1965. When Alain, under the belief that these were by the hand of Toulouse-Lautrec, sought out the expertise of the French committee responsible for authenticating works by the artist over fifty years later, they were regrettably rejected as genuine works.
The team had to build up as much evidence as possible, including supportive scientific analysis using the most advanced technology available, prior to an official meeting of the committee designated to review potential works by Toulouse-Lautrec. Did Philip and Fiona have enough to convince the committee to reevaluate the works and change their minds? Watch episode two on BBC I-Player to find out.
A selection of the sketches believed to have been executed by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Episode three of the series saw the team investigate whether a small watercolour sketch could be by the British 20th-century sculptor Henry Moore (1898-1986). It is the only piece thought to be by a British artist in a Nazi hoard of around 1,500 works discovered in Germany in 2012. Known as the Gurlitt hoard, it is now housed in the Museum of Fine Art in Bern, Switzerland. Watch here to find out the verdict.
Dido Belle and Lady Elizabeth Murray by David Martin (1737-97) Scone Palace
Last week’s episode made a departure in approach as the team took on two separate portraits depicting black sitters. The two portraits are rare examples of their kind and date to the 18th – 19th centuries. Painted with extraordinary skill and sophistication, both pictures are highly unusual in their positive depiction of black sitters at a time when Britain was still heavily engaged in slavery. The team were tasked with hunting down the purpose behind these intriguing works and also the identities of the artists responsible for these seemingly forward-thinking paintings.