Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 15°C

min temp: 8°C

ESTD 1874 Search

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.

shares
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.

shares

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 hunt is on for Britain's best beach hut - and these huts at Southwold could harbour a winner. PHOTO: Warren Page/ Anglia Press Agency

Nominations have opened for a competition to find Britain’s favourite beach hut.

Therese Coffey is declared the MP for Suffolk Coastal In the parliamentary elections at Martlesham.

Speaker John Bercow lost his temper with Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey and health secretary Jeremy Hunt today for using their mobile phones on the front bench.

Lexden Road - stock photo

A man who lost his temper and pushed a 67-year-old stranger into the path of a car on a busy road, resulting in him being rushed to hospital with multiple fractures, has walked free from court after a judge decided not to send him straight to prison.

Will Quince, Colchester MP, addresses a National Citizen Service event

The government will seek to learn lessons from two brutal knife murders committed by a teenager in Colchester, a minister has said.

John McGreal has been appointed as Colchester United's First Team Coach.
L-R Tony Hulme,Robbie Cowling,John McGreal.

Carl Marston spoke to new Colchester United boss John McGreal, as well as chairman Robbie Cowling, following this afternoon’s announcement.

Theres not long left to sign up to be part of Suffolks biggest neon party on Saturday, May 7.
.
L-R Sam Catling,Tracy New, Pauline Donkin, Brian Taylor, Jack Nicholl, Joanne Rodger, Nikki Brown, Catherine Sheppard.

There are just days left to sign up to be part of Suffolk’s biggest neon party this weekend.

Police are investigating the accident

A young boy has been taken to hospital after he was clipped by a car in Bildeston, near Stowmarket, this afternoon.

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

Great British Life

Great British Life
MyDate24 MyPhotos24