Title: The Art Detective: Fakes, Frauds, and Finds and the Search for Lost Treasures
Author: Philip Mould
Release Date: June 10, 2010
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4 out of 5
In this book, British art dealer Philip Mould, best known for the original BBC version of the show Antiques Roadshow, chronicles some of the more interesting finds and discoveries of his career, including finding a lost Gainsborough painting.
I love reading books about art - provenance, history, finding lost art - so I’ve been wanting to read The Art Detective for some time. I wasn’t familiar with Philip Mould before I picked up this book, but I enjoyed getting to know him through it. His voice is self-deprecating and honest. While it’s clear he’s an important person in the art world, in Britain as well as world-wide, he never tries to boast about that fact. This self-awareness makes him incredibly appealing over the course of the book.
The book is divided into different chapters, each with its own story about a certain work of art. One of the most important finds in Mould’s career, a lost Thomas Gainsborough, is chronicled in this book, as well as is the the faking of a Norman Rockwell painting. Mould didn’t actually have any professional connections to the Rockwell, but the entire situation intrigued him enough to seek out those involved and get the real story. This mix of tales really gives the reader a good sense of Mould’s personality, and what interests him most in his dealings.
The style of The Art Detective is light and easy. Mould gives enough details to satisfy the curious mind, but never stifles the reader with trivial minutiae. As a result, this is a great read for a layperson like me, interested in the art world but without much knowledge of it. It’s really an accessible book, and the format makes it such that if you aren’t interested in a particular tale, you can skip ahead to the next chapter without missing any overarching narrative.
The Art Detective was a thoroughly enjoyable read that was both quick and informative. I do hope that Mould chooses to release another book; with all his years in the art business, I’m sure he has many more great stories he could share with readers. This is a great book for art lovers, but also for those new to the art world but intrigued by what Mould might have to say.