The UK’s National Gallery comes clean about its mistaken acquisitions and attributions. The Financial Times takes the opportunityt to praise the science behind the detection:
Among the works on display is the gallery’s “prize fake”, according to Ashok Roy, its director of scientific research: a painting acquired by the gallery in 1845 as an important work by Hans Holbein the younger.
The attribution was soon doubted, and the resulting scandal caused the resignation of Sir Charles Lock Eastlake, keeper of the National Gallery, in 1847.
Now fresh analysis of the painting’s wood panel support have proved the doubters correct. It shows that the work was executed in the 1560s – well after Holbein’s death in 1543. It was probably painted by the Flemish artist Michiel Coxcie.
Another mistake was made when the gallery bought what it thought were two paintings by Sandro Botticelli at an 1874 auction of works collected by Alexander Barker. One of them, Venus and Mars, is now regarded as one of the Renaissance painter’s masterpieces.
But the other, An Allegory, which fetched a higher price in the auction, was soon reassessed as an inferior work, probably painted by a follower. The two works will be hung side-by-side in the exhibition, which opens on June 30.
Mr Roy said that, although new techniques meant the gallery would no longer make serious dating errors, the question of authorship was a more subjective matter. “We will still rely on historical research and connoisseurship,” he said.
The National Gallery Exposes Fakes (Financial Times)