Fake or Fortune?

Series 2 - 3. Van Dyck: What Lies Beneath

Radio Times
Review by:
David Butcher

“Has something gone terribly wrong?” frets Fiona Bruce as she inspects tonight’s painting in mid-restoration.

Well yes, it may have done. The work in question is a “sleeper”, a masterpiece by Van Dyck hidden for centuries by later paint — or at least, that’s what our roguish dealer Philip Mould fervently hopes.

He bought the portrait of Charles I’s wife Henrietta Maria at auction for the princely sum of £7,000. If he’s right, and under the clumsy overpaint there’s a kosher Van Dyck, it will be worth a hundred times that.

But stripping back the layers of history is a ticklish task: 500 hours of restoration work and some cunning sleuthing over torn labels on the back may not settle the big question: is it a Van Dyck? Or has Mould come
a cropper? Suddenly, those urbane features are looking defensive...

About this programme

3/3. The tables are turned as art detective Philip Mould puts one of his own finds under the microscope, a painting he bought that he believes could be the work of 17th-century artist Anthony van Dyck. If he is right, it could be worth a small fortune. But to prove it, the piece will have to undergo a thorough restoration, involving the removal of layers of paint - and then be authenticated by an impartial expert. Will Philip's reputation - and the painting - make it to the end of the journey unscathed? Last in the series.

Cast and crew


Fiona Bruce
Philip Mould


Rachel Jardine
Rachel Jardine
Series Producer
Simon Shaw