On the Monet - Waldemar writes

June 24 2011

Image of On the Monet - Waldemar writes


Further to his tweeted attribution of the Monet featured on Fake or Fortune (he said it wasn't by Monet), Waldemar Januszczak has also written a letter to the Guardian. He says:

In his review of Fake or Fortune (Last night's TV, G2, 20 June), Sam Wollaston accepts too wholeheartedly the argument presented in the programme that the painting under discussion is a genuine Monet. He also joins a long line of people keen to attack the Wildenstein Institute, the official arbiter in these matters, for continuing to insist that it is not. What no one seems prepared to countenance is that the Wildenstein Institute is right. Having just made a series about Monet and the impressionists, I completely agree with their view that the picture featured in the programme was not painted by Monet. Plenty of fake Monets were already in circulation while Monet was alive. And, unfortunately, his unscrupulous dealer, Georges Petit, was perfectly capable of selling pretend Monets to visiting Egyptians. All this episode of Fake or Fortune actually proved is that the art world hasn't changed a bit.

Now, I'm not aware of any evidence that Georges Petit sold fake Monets. But let's just imagine that he did, that he actually employed or found someone to sit in a boat on the Seine and paint a fake Monet in the style in which Monet painted in the 1870s (long before he reached his greatest fame). Then let's imagine that the forger was good enough to paint a work that would convince a large number of Monet scholars, and was clever enough to source all the appropriate canvas supplier's marks on the back. And finally, let's imagine that Petit was then able, as one of Monet's main dealers and someone who knew the artist well, to sell this cunning fake as a 'Monet' while Monet was alive. That's pretty ingenious, don't you think? And probably a more expensive operation than just buying a real Monet.  

There's also a further problem with Waldemar's argument. If Petit was clever enough to do all that, why would he, as one of Paris' leading art dealers, then risk his reputation by illustrating the said fake Monet in Monet's obituary in Le Figaro newspaper (which he did on December 16th 1926)? Just for a laugh?  

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