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Review of Philip Mould’s ‘Art Detective’ – artmarketblog.com

Considering that I have just finished my series of posts on Portraits as Art Market Currency, I think it is rather fitting that I post a review of a book
about the exploits of a British portrait dealer – a book that I
absolutely loved reading and want to encourage everyone else to read.
Seeking out works of art that he suspects have hidden secrets has taken
world renowned portrait expert and art world super sleuth Philip Mould
OBE all over the world on exciting journeys of discovery and
enlightenment. His latest book titled ‘The Art Detective: Fakes,
Frauds, and Finds and the Search for Lost Treasures’ is a collection of
case histories that provide a fascinating insight into the sleuthing
escapades of the art world’s answer to Sherlock Holmes. From the
identification of a long lost Winslow Homer recovered from a rubbish
dump, to the discovery of an amazing early work by Gainsborough that
was misattributed to a “follower of Jacob van Ruisdael”, Mould’s true
tales of art world investigation introduce the reader to a world of
kookie characters and perturbing mysteries.

If you are a fan of the UK Antiques Roadshow then you have probably seen Mould giving valuations to hopeful visitors and would be aware of his position as a valuer of fine art. Die hard Antiques Roadshow fans
will also know that Mould gave the first one million pound valuation
for a design model of Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North sculpture
which appeared on the 16 November 2008 episode. What you perhaps didn’t
know about Mould is that he has made his mark on art history by
breathing new life into damaged or misidentified portraits. In the
hands of Mould and his team, paintings that once languished in
obscurity are given the artistic and historical recognition they
deserve.

Part memoir and part thriller, ‘The Art Detective’ has all the elements of a Le Carre spy tale – drama, suspense and intrigue – combined with rare glimpses into the usually secretive world of those
involved in the detection of fine art fakes, forgeries and
misattributions. As well as being extremely entertaining, Mould also
provides fascinating and educational glimpses into the social and
cultural histories that are an integral part of the objects that he
deals with. The latest foray into the Mould files is a thoroughly
entertaining and thought provoking read that will not only delight
anyone interested in fine art, but also anyone who enjoys a good spy
thriller.

When I met Philip Mould for the first time I was really impressed with how passionate he was about what he does – a characteristic that really shines through in his writing. Many of the art books that I have
read, and history books as well for that matter, are filled with
pretentious ramblings that give the impression that the author is just
trying to prove how well educated they are, but with ‘The Art
Detective’ one gets the strong impression that for Mould, his work is a
labor of love that is more about the art than self promotion. I can
honestly say that ‘The Art Detective: Fakes, Frauds, and Finds and the
Search for Lost Treasures’ is one of the most interesting and
entertaining books on fine art that I have ever read and I encourage
everyone who reads this post to get yourself a copy now.

Residents of the USA can purchase a hard or soft copy of ‘The Art Detective: Fakes, Frauds, and Finds and the Search for Lost Treasures’ here:

http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780670021857,00....

Non US residents can purchase a copy here:

http://www.amazon.com/Art-Detective-Frauds-Search-Treasures/dp/0670...

**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of http://www.artmarketblog.com, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications

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