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Portrait Group
Italian
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This picture looks like an Italian Renaissance portrait but is in fact a forgery made in the early twentieth century. It includes elements found in the originals, such as the stone window opening onto a view of the Italian countryside and the view of figures in profile.

It was purchased in 1923 as a fifteenth-century work, possibly by an artist close to Melozzo da Forli (1438–1494). The forger added a stamp with a coat of arms in the top corner intending to suggest the sitters were from the renowned Montefeltro family of Urbino.

By 1951 the picture was recognised as a fake. Scientific investigation of the panel in 1996 revealed that some of the pigments used – including cobalt blue and cadmium yellow – were not available before the nineteenth century. The man’s cap, too, is more like a women’s hat fashionable in around 1913 than a Renaissance garment.

Key facts
Artist Italian
Full title Portrait Group
Date made early 20th century
Medium and support Oil and tempera on wood
Dimensions 40.6 x 36.5 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1923
Inventory number NG3831
Location in Gallery Not on display
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