a story lives forever
Sign in
Form submission failed!

Stay signed in

Recover your password?
Form submission failed!

Web of Stories Ltd would like to keep you informed about our products and services.

Please tick here if you would like us to keep you informed about our products and services.

I have read and accepted the Terms & Conditions.

Please note: Your email and any private information provided at registration will not be passed on to other individuals or organisations without your specific approval.

Video URL

You must be registered to use this feature. Sign in or register.


Exposing forgery in art


Copies, imitations and attribution
Brian Sewell Writer
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments

Yes, there is a wonderful moment of excitement in looking at something that purports to be Rubens and it isn’t a Rubens, and it isn’t a Rubens, because it’s a copy by Delacroix, because Delacroix has made subtle alterations and so on. It tells you so much about Delacroix. It might not tell you anything about Rubens. And it’s only the surface of it, the subject that has given you the misleading thought that it is Rubens.

I have a little painting, of which I’m very fond, by Matthew Smith, and it’s after Delacroix, so it does exactly the same thing. It tells me so much more about Matthew Smith than it does about Delacroix. There’s a painting there which is a copy of Ribera, by Glyn Philpott, and it’s a very instructive little thing about Philpott, and you look at it and you say, but this is a Ribera composition, this is Ribera colour and so on, but it’s not Ribera’s scale and it can’t possibly be Ribera, it… just look at it. And then you have to do this… and sometimes it’s the most difficult work in the world to… when you have one really good painter working on another really good painter, because the qualities of both are coming into play and lending confusion. Then you need some kind of proof, which will be either documentary or a letter recording something, or, as in the case of the Philpott, there’s an inscription on the back... his signature.

So no, that’s… but that’s an entirely different matter from the forger who is setting out to deceive.

Born in England, Brian Sewell (1931-2015) was considered to be one of Britain’s most prominent and outspoken art critics. He was educated at the Courtauld Institute of Art and subsequently became an art critic for the London Evening Standard; he received numerous awards for his work in journalism. Sewell also presented several television documentaries, including an arts travelogue called The Naked Pilgrim in 2003. He talked candidly about the prejudice he endured because of his sexuality.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: Peter Paul Rubens, Eugène Delacroix, Sir Matthew Smith, Glyn Philpot, Jusepe de Ribera, Lo Spagnoletto

Duration: 2 minutes, 14 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2013

Date story went live: 04 July 2013