Mistakes

Throughout its history, the Gallery has diligently sought expert advice when acquiring paintings. However, despite acting with the best knowledge available at the time, not all acquisitions have turned out as intended.

Close Examination: Fakes, Mistakes and Discoveries explores some of the stories of mistaken identity behind National Gallery paintings.

These case studies demonstrate how Gallery experts have occasionally been misled – and how their mistakes were discovered.

After Pietro Perugino, 'The Baptism of Christ', probably 1810-60
Feature
Are two almost identical versions of Perugino's 'The Baptism of Christ' fakes or respectful copies?
Attributed to Michiel Coxcie, 'A Man with a Skull', about 1560 or later
Feature
Uncover the dramatic tale of the Gallery’s first ‘Holbein’
French, 'Portrait of a Man (Victor Considérant?)', probably about 1830-50
Feature
Will scientists and connoisseurs ever determine who painted this mysterious portrait?
Detail from Attributed to Andrea Previtali, 'Scenes from Tebaldeo's Eclogues: The Story of Damon', perhaps about 1505
Feature
Find out about the scandal that erupted following the purchase of these two dramatic panels
Gustave Courbet, 'Self Portrait (L'Homme à la Ceinture de Cuir)', 1845-50
Feature
Discover how recent research has challenged the authorship of this small self portrait