The mayor has described it as a catastrophe for the town in the South of France and vowed to catch the forgers
An art museum in the south of France has discovered that more than half of its collection consists of fakes, in what the local mayor on Sunday described as a “catastrophe” for the region.
The tiny 8,000 -strong community of Elne just outside Perpignan re-opened its Etienne Terrus Museum, dedicated to the works of the local artist who was born in 1857 and been killed in 1922, on Friday after extensive redevelopment work.
But an art historian brought in to reorganise the museum following the recent acquisition of around 80 paints, found that virtually 60% of the entire collect was fake.
” Etienne Terrus was Elne’s great painter. He was part of the community, he was our painter ,” said mayor Yves Barniol.
” Knowing that people have visited the museum and ensure a collection, most of which is fake, that’s bad. It’s a catastrophe for local municipalities .”
Eric Forcada, the art historian who uncovered the forgeries, said that he had watched straight away that most of the works were fake.
” On one painting, the ink signature was wiped away when I passed my white glove over it .”
He alerted the region’s cultural attache and requested a session of a panel experts to confirm his findings.
” At a stylistic level, it’s crude. The cotton supports do not match the canvas used by Terrus. And there are some anachronisms ,” Forcada said.
In all, out of the 140 runs that make up the collecting, 82 were fake.
Elne’s mayor Barniol insisted that the investigation would be continued until the perpetrators had been find.
” We’re not giving up ,” he said.
Forcada said that prior to the opening of the scandal, paintings by Terrus could fetch up to 15,000 euros ($ 18,200) and draws and watercolours would sell for up to 2,000 euros.
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