Fake or Fortune?

A Family Portrait - Maria Cosway Or Sir Thomas L

Season 8, Episode 1 of 4

In this episode we investigate a family portrait which for generations has been accepted as a work by female artist Maria Cosway. A chance encounter by Philip Mould brought this attribution into question; he spotted it across the room believing it to be by the Regency artist Sir Thomas Lawrence. The difference in value between them is enormous. As a Maria Cosway original, it might sell for between $8,000 - $10, 000. However, as a Lawrence original, it could fetch at least half a million pounds. Recently, a Lawrence portrait of the same size made auction house records selling at $2.3 million. Is it a Cosway or a Lawrence? Maria Cosway was a pioneering female artist. Born in Italy in 1760 to British parents, she came to London at the age of 18 and was soon painting many of the great and good of regency England. Today the whereabouts of much of her work is unknown, so having a portrait by her would be of great importance. Though Sir Thomas Lawrence was a contemporary of Cosway, he went on to become a titan of British portraiture.

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