Journalist Fiona Bruce teams up with art expert Philip Mould to investigate mysteries behind paintings.
Runtime: 60 minutes
Fake or Fortune? - The Grand Teddy tea-rooms paintings - Netflix
The Grand Teddy tea-rooms paintings is a collective name for three glue distemper oval paintings executed by Edouard Vuillard for Le Grand Teddy tea-rooms in Paris in 1918. The largest is privately owned, but is sometimes exhibited. One of the smaller works (identified in Vuillard's notes as The Cafe) was featured on an episode of the BBC television programme Fake or Fortune? which first broadcast on 19 January 2014. The location of the third (called The Oysters in Vuillard's notes) is currently unknown.
Fake or Fortune? - BBC's Fake or Fortune? - Netflix
Keith Tutt, an author and scriptwriter from Norfolk, fell in love with the work of French post-Impressionist painter Édouard Vuillard during his art classes at Tonbridge School and purchased a painting, thought to be one of the two smaller Grand Teddy works, at auction for approximately UK£11,000. He contacted the BBC programme Fake or Fortune?, in an attempt to gain their help in authenticating his work. Tutt's vertical oval painting, titled The Café, depicts an oblique elevated view of a café interior, with a group of women seated on a banquette. It was thought to be one of the three paintings commissioned from Vuillard in 1918 to decorate “Le Grand Teddy”. The main painting of the commission, Le Grand Teddy, is currently privately owned and kept in secure storage in Geneva, Switzerland, and, at the time the program was made, it was the only one of the three known to still exist, and to have been fully confirmed as a genuine Vuillard. With assistance from art experts and archivists in Britain, France and the Netherlands, the program undertook an exhaustive investigation and analysis of the Tutt painting, and they were given special permission by the owners of Le Grand Teddy to view it, to examine it using infra-red and ultra-violet light, and to take minute samples of the paint and canvas for scientific analysis. This showed that both paintings were virtually identical, both in the type of canvas used, and the medium with which Vuillard had painted the works. This was a relatively unusual compound of animal glue and pigment, called glue distemper, which Vuillard had learned to use in his early career, while working as a theatrical scenery painter. He was thought to have chosen glue distemper for the Grand Teddy commission in part because its unvarnished matte surface did not reflect the bright electric lights then coming into common use. The program's team was also able to visit the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, where they discovered the original interior design drawings for Le Grand Teddy, showing how the paintings would have been placed. An investigation of the provenance traced the ownership back from Tutt, through Robert Warren and a previous owner, to British theatrical manager Charles Cochran. The program's art historian Bendor Grosvenor was able to locate an article in Windsor Magazine, from 1933, which specifically mentioned both The Café and The Oysters as being in Cochran's possession at the time. Following the clue provided by a damaged shipping label on the back of The Café, the program was finally able to locate contemporary Dutch newspaper reviews from 1926, which described both paintings in great detail, and thus confirming that after the Grand Teddy had closed, Vuillard's dealer Jos Hessel had placed the two smaller paintings in an exhibition in the Netherlands, from where they were thought to have been seen and purchased by Cochran. After submitting all the evidence to a committee at the secretive and highly conservative Wildenstein Institute in Paris, Tutt and the Fake or Fortune? team learned that the committee had unanimously agreed The Café to be a genuine work, and that it would henceforward be incorporated into the catalogue raisonné of Vuillard. As a result of this validation, the painting was estimated to be worth at least UK£200,00–£300,000.
Fake or Fortune? - References - Netflix