Under the Microscope. Gustave Courbet, Norway's National Gallery, through February 5, 2017
While the forgery of artworks has been taking place for almost as long as artists have been painting, the geometric expansion of the art market and the rise in prices for artworks, as well as amazing advances in technology, mean that the scandals swirling around forgeries are occurring far more often than before. Even the most expert of experts at prestigious museums often find it difficult to tell the difference between an authentic artwork and a fake. At the exhibition Under the Microscope. Gustave Courbet, which is now on view at Norway’s National Gallery, one of these thrilling stories is told in detail.
In 1947, the museum received Pêcheur à la ligne (The Fisherman) by Gustave Courbet (1819–1877) as a gift, but Courbet experts in France long doubted the painting’s authenticity. Their doubts were accentuated by the fact that Courbet’s style is easily imitated and the famous artist is therefore one of the most frequently counterfeited. He painted about 500 works, but collections worldwide hold about 5000 pieces attributed to him. Many forgeries have been discovered in recent years, but in the case of Pêcheur à la ligne, countless examinations testify to its authenticity. The Oslo exhibition is a visual story of how the museum reached this conclusion.
Gustave Courbet, Fiskeren, uten år. Photo Nasjonalmuseet, Børre Høstland