Since February, an impostor has lurked inside the halls of the Dulwich Picture Gallery. The museum, located in London and known for its excellent collection of Old Master paintings, has been testing the connoisseurship skills of its visitors with a conceptual art project by the American artist Doug Fishbone. Titled Made in China, the project has unfolded in stages. First, Fishbone commissioned a replica of a work in the museum's collection from a professional copyist in China, and surreptitiously installed it in the museum (in the original's frame). He then challenged visitors to identify the interloper. Finally, on April 28, the museum circulated the correct answer on social media and placed the two works, original and copy, side by side.
Can you spot the fake? One of the 10 paintings shown below is Fishbone's contemporary reproduction (all images represent paintings currently on view at the Dulwich Picture Gallery). Choose carefully; then, scroll down to see if you’re right.
1. A Boy as a Shepherd by Sir Peter Lely, c. 1658-60
2. Called Nathan Field by members of the British School, c. 1615
3. A Bull by Balthazar Paul Ommeganck, c. 1780s
4. Portrait of a Young Woman by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, c. 1769
5. Christ Carried to the Tomb by Sisto Badalocchio, c. 1607
6. Boats in a Storm by Ludolf Bakhuizen, 1696
7. Venus and Cupid by Giovanni Battista Paggi, c. 1575-81
8. Princess Victoria Aged Four by Stephen Poyntz Denning, 1823
9. Head of a Hound by Peter Boel, c. 1660-65
10. The Judde Memorial by members of the British School, c. 1560
If you guessed #4, you're right! The painting above is a contemporary copy of Fragonard's Portrait of a Young Woman (c. 1769). Here's the original:
And here's the two paintings next to each other, for your comparison (the fake is on the right):
Read more about Fishbone's vision for the project in his interview with Phaidon here. For more on the long history of art forgeries, check out art crime expert Noah Charney's excellent book The Art of Forgery: The Minds, Motives, and Methods of MasterForgers, published by Phaidon books, as well as our own interview with homegrown master forger Mark Landis.