The United Kingdom National Gallery
is dusting off some of its most embarrassing acquisitions for a new exhibition
looking at fake artworks.
Close Examination will display
works of art that have been quietly removed from view after research showed
they were not what they were thought to be.
They include works supposedly by
Sandro Botticelli and Hans Holbein which were mistakenly thought to be genuine.
More than 40 works of art will go
on display at the gallery in June.
The exhibition is billed as a
celebration of “the remarkable collaboration of scientists, conservators
and art historians” at the central London
Spread across six rooms, the works
represent some of the biggest challenges faced by gallery experts.
In June 1874, the gallery paid more
for a fake than a real Botticelli when two pieces were purchased at the same
Venus and Mars was bought along
with the more expensive An Allegory, which was thought to be a companion piece.
Only later was the latter
discovered to be a pastiche painted by a follower in the style of Botticelli.
The paintings will be displayed
alongside one another at the exhibition.
Also on show will be a portrait
acquired by the National Gallery in 1990 which was believed to be by Holbein.
But microscopic paint analysis
revealed Portrait of Alexander Mornauer (about 1464-88) was altered to resemble
a work by the German master.
Conservators were able to safely
remove these additions to return the painting to its original state.
One room in the exhibition looks at
work by great artists that were rediscovered through a combination of
scientific analysis, conservation, and art historical research.
Raphael’s original painting of The
Madonna of the Pinks, whose whereabouts was unknown until 1991, will also be on
During a visit to Alnwick Castle
in Northumberland, Dr Nicholas Penny – now director of the National Gallery –
spotted the painting and decided it warranted closer examination.
Infrared reflectograms confirmed
the work as a genuine Raphael.
Close Examination: Fakes, Mistakes
and Discoveries opens on 30 June and runs until 12 September.