Masterpieces worth millions replaced by forgeries at galleries for new TV series

Originally published in Guardian Series on 1st July, 2016 .

Masterpieces worth millions replaced by forgeries at galleries for new TV series

Sky Arts has swapped seven paintings for fake copies at galleries across Britain, and has tasked the public to find the frauds

Seven British paintings have been removed from the walls of galleries and replaced with fakes in the name of a national TV competition.

Sky Arts said they had organised the deception with the full cooperation of galleries that include the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh and the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool.

During July, people will be able to look at a number of paintings knowing that one of them is a fake. For example in Manchester Art Gallery, people can enjoy pre-Raphaelite paintings by artists including Ford Madox Brown, William Holman Hunt, Rossetti and Millais, and one will not be what it seems.

“You don’t have to be an art historian to have a go at this,” said Phil Edgar-­Jones, the director of Sky Arts. “All you need is a sense of curiosity and an eye for detail.

“We wanted to tell the story of British art with a sense of fun, and in a way that would encourage us all to take a closer and more critical look at the works of great British artists.”

The participating galleries are in Cardiff, Edinburgh, Liverpool, London and Manchester, and the public will also be able to see the seven displays online.

Each episode will focus on a particular period in British art, whether that is animal and sporting art in the 18th and 19th centuries or the portraiture of the Stuart courts.

Successful fake spotters will be invited to the series finale at the Ashmolean Musuem in Oxford, with the eventual winner getting a fake of their own.

The show, Fake! The Great Masterpiece Challenge, will be screened in the new year, presented by the journalist Giles Coren and the art historian Rose Balston.


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