Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Book Review: The Art Detective

I picked this up on a whim when my eye happened upon it at the local library.

The Art Detective: Fakes, Frauds, and Finds and the Search for Lost Treasures is a pretty entertaining read. It's written by Philip Mould, an art historian/collector/appraiser who is also known for his appearances on Antiques Roadshow.

In the Art Detective, he takes the reader into the world of 'found' paintings, specifically works of grand masters that have been recovered after years either missing or lying in unknown obscurity. The work that goes into researching their histories, verifying their authenticity, and in restoring their damages (e.g. from things like later 'artists' having painted a newer and more fashionable hat on them). He does this by picking a handful of the more colorful finds from his career (not all were his finds) and bringing us behind the scenes of the process that can sometimes drag out for months.

Mould is somewhat long winded and a touch pretentious in his narration, but it can be comical if taken with a pinch of salt. The background on the processes used to recover these works is quite fascinating.

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