Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 18°C

min temp: 11°C

ESTD 1874 Search

The pigs have arrived. See the latest

Pigs Gone Wild

news here.

Gallery: Millions sliced off Gainsborough masterpiece after owners cut it out - reveals Sudbury-based expert as he stars on BBC Fake or Fortune? show

13:17 11 February 2014

Mark Bills is pictured at Gainsborough House in Sudbury. A painting has been recently identified as a Gainsborough via a TV show.

Mark Bills is pictured at Gainsborough House in Sudbury. A painting has been recently identified as a Gainsborough via a TV show.

Archant

An 18th Century portrait which languished for years in the backroom of a city museum has been identified as a work by Suffolk’s most famous artist, Thomas Gainsborough.

Joseph Gape by Thomas GainsboroughJoseph Gape by Thomas Gainsborough

But because the portrait of Joseph Gape, former mayor of St Albans, has been cut into an oval shape at some point during the past 300 years, its value will have been sliced from potentially millions of pounds to just tens of thousands, according to experts.

The identity of the artist was uncovered by Gainsborough specialist Hugh Belsey, from Bury St Edmunds, on the BBC programme Fake or Fortune? – which aired on Sunday and was filmed at the artist’s birthplace in Sudbury.

The Gape portrait, painted in 1762, was one of 17,000 oil paintings registered as “artist unknown” on the Your Paintings online record of UK artworks.

The work, loaned to the Museum of St Albans by descendents of Joseph Gape, was one of two “lost” Gainsborough’s identified on the show. Imaginary Landscape, held in London’s Courtauld Institute, was also acknowledged as a drawing by the artist, which had been ‘painted over’ by another following Gainsborough’s death.

Mr Belsey said because the Gape portrait had been tampered with – possibly in the 18th Century by someone who wanted it to fit in with a gallery of fashionably oval paintings and who was unaware of its future worth – the painting’s value would have been reduced.

Mark Bills, director of Gainsborough’s House museum in Sudbury, agreed, adding: “We have a big collection of Gainsborough’s portraits where he painted a kind of feigned oval frame around the image inside the rectangular frame.

“This particular work has been cut around that painted line to make it an oval shape, which will have cut the value down considerably.

“Gainsborough’s works can be worth anything from tens of thousands of pounds to multi-millions. This is now likely to be at the lower end of the scale.”

According to Mr Bills, Gainsborough would have found the mystery surrounding the paintings “amusing”. He said: “It was reported in the 18th Century newspapers that he was once in a position where he had to judge whether a painting was fake or real.

“He was called as a witness when someone bought a ‘Nicolas Poussin’ and thought they had been conned by the dealer. Gainsborough cast his painter’s eye over it and concluded that it ‘left him with no emotions’ – he 
said he wouldn’t give five shillings for it!”

It is still largely down to the experts’ eye to judge whether a painting is genuine or not.

“It’s a responsible job when such big money involved,” Mr Bills added.

1 comment

  • It doesn't strike me as a particularly **good** painting. A case of "being valuable because the painter was famous" rather than "being valuable because of its quality"?

    Report this comment

    beerlover

    Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The scene of the multi vehicle accident on the A14 by the Rougham Industrial Estate

Three motorists who filmed the scene of a seven-vehicle crash which left a lorry driver in a critical condition have attended courses to avoid being fined.

Boris Johnson leaves his home in north London, as Theresa May overtook him in the race to become the next prime minister, according to polling. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 28, 2016. The Home Secretary and former London mayor are among leading Tories who are expected to spend the day drumming up support for potential leadership bids ahead of nominations opening on Wednesday. See PA story POLITICS Conservatives. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Suffolk MP Dan Poulter has backed Boris Johnson to be the next prime minister in an early move in the Tory leadership contest.

Poppy and Freddie Millerchip with Pretty Penny

The streets of Ipswich have appeared busier than usual over the past few days with extra shoppers enjoying the warmer weather - and the new Pigs Gone Wild statues adding to the buzz, as captured by Instagram users.

Students at the University of East Anglia. Picture: Supplied

Suffolk’s mental health trust risks financial losses and reputational damage because of its poor performance training medical students.

Harriet Philo Powell, 18, from Bulmer

The death of an aspiring art student from the Essex/Suffolk border highlighted “systemic failings” and “weaknesses” in the Suffolk mental health trust, her family told an inquest.

Dr Dan Poulter.

Suffolk MP Dan Poulter has backed Boris Johnson to be the next prime minister in an early move in the Tory leadership contest.

Penzance Road area of Kesgrave

A cyclist has been injured after a crash in Kesgrave this morning.

Most read

Great Days Out

cover

Click here to view
the Great Days Out
supplement

View

Most commented

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Streetlife

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Great British Life

Great British Life
MyDate24 MyPhotos24