A painting that has hung in a Tunstall church for more than 200 years becomes the focus of the latest ‘Fake or Fortune’ investigation this Sunday on BBC1.
The popular programme, presented by Fiona Bruce and art expert Philip Mould, will hope to reveal the provenance of the mysterious work of art.
Each week ‘Fake or Fortune’ forensically examines a painting that could be by a noted artist. So far in this latest series works which were thought to be by Lowry and Renoir have featured.
This week the ancient picture-postcard grade 1 listed church of St John the Baptist in Tunstall once patronised by the Bronte sisters, will take centre stage in the programme. Vicar Rev Mark Cannon and other parishioners including churchwarden Jane Greenhalgh feature as the investigation gets under way. The huge Renaissance-style painting depicts the aftermath of Christ’s crucifixion and the trail leads the programme to Italy in search of the answer to the key question: who was the artist?
Fiona Bruce said: “It’s thanks to Jane, the churchwarden, that this painting was brought to our attention. It was a mystery they wanted us to investigate.
“(The painting) was filthy and dark and had been in the church since the mid-1800s but that was all that was known about it.”
Philip Mould added: “Using my trusty torch, which I take with me everywhere I go, I was able to see that, despite the fact it was dirty, beneath all the grime lay something very exciting.”
The episode sees the Fake or Fortune crew travel to Cambridge and Venice during their investigation.
Fiona continued: “It’s been lovely working with the people here at the church including Mark, the vicar, and it’s such a beautiful church. We found out more than we ever thought we would, including some very interesting information about a former vicar of the parish!”
And Philip teased further saying: “I think it’s fair to say that if you watch the programme you will find we have come up with a name (for the artist).”
Jane, the churchwarden, talks in the video about the experience of working with the Fake or Fortune team.
She said: “They came to see the painting before Christmas and soon decided it was a goer. We started filming in March.
“As part of the filming work I’ve had the good fortune to go to Cambridge and see the picture forensically examined and infra-red photographs taken of it which was fascinating.
“I was not too concerned about value, more about what the painting was; it was so incredibly dirty it was hard to see what it was!”
Rev. Mark Cannon added: “We are hopeful of discovering something about its history, how it got here and why it’s in the church.
“It has been an exciting journey and we are looking forward to watching the programme on Sunday which will reveal the outcome of the investigation.”