Painting goes up for auction for £120,000 after Fake or Fortune probe

Painting goes up for auction for £120,000 after Fake or Fortune probe
Painting goes up for auction for £120,000 after Fake or Fortune probe

A painting by a 19th-century French artist is set to fetch up to £120,000 when it goes up for auction in London - two decades after it was bought for £3,800 in New York.

The work by Jean-Léon Gérôme, entitled 'At Prayer', was authenticated following an investigation by the BBC's Fake or Fortune team which aired over the summer.

It was bought by Los Angeles-artist Jon Swihart in 1999 at an auction in New York for $6,325 (then worth about £3,800), catalogued as 'Circle of Jean-Léon Gérôme'. 

Mr Swihart was sure the painting could be a work by the actual artist - and enlisted the help of presenter Fiona Bruce and art dealer Philip Mould to help confirm this.

During the programme on August 4, Mould pointed out to Mr Swihart that his painting would have only been worth about £1,000 if it was not actually by the artist. 

Art historian Emily Weeks, who is an acknowledged expert on the works of Gérôme, carried out a critical re-appraisal on the show and was able to authenticate the work. 

The work by Jean-Léon Gérôme, entitled 'At Prayer', was authenticated by Fake or Fortune

The work by Jean-Léon Gérôme, entitled 'At Prayer', was authenticated by Fake or Fortune

Fake of Fortune presenter Fiona Bruce and art dealer Philip Mould with 'At Prayer' in the middle

Fake of Fortune presenter Fiona Bruce and art dealer Philip Mould with 'At Prayer' in the middle

This was despite it having been deemed a collaborative work in the 1980s by Gerald Ackerman, an the art historian and leading Gérôme expert who died in 2016 aged 87.

During the investigation for the BBC show, Bruce visited Sotheby's in London to speak with Claude Piening, a senior specialist of Orientalist art. 

The painting was made shortly after Gérôme's first trip to Egypt in 1856, and gives a depiction of Muslim prayer and an insight into the artist's working methods.

A key piece of evidence was a pencil sketch by Gérôme held by the Cooper Art Gallery in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, of a robed and turbaned man who is kneeling.

Another was the location of the pulpit or minbar which was

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