Tom Keating 1917-1984 (YouTube Series)

I’m currently revisiting a TV show from ages past presented by a lovable old English rogue named Tom Keating, he had a flair for art and began restoring paintings in the 50’s, he subsequently began ‘restoring’ old paintings more comprehensively - beginning with a blank canvas! Being very competent in painting in various styles, notably that of Samuel Palmer he successfully forged a great number throughout the 60’s including Titian, Degas, Gainsborough, Renoir and Rembrandt.

He was caught when after X-rays were carried out on some suspicious paintings he had sold, and revealed some rude words, written in lead white underneath the upper layers of paint in a good amount of them, as well as various other impossibilities in material choices and subject matter he had deliberately added into the paintings.

He used this as evidence that he never intended to deceive anyone as he had clearly left evidence that the works were not original! :laughing:

Due to his notoriety, the BBC managed to commission a short series out of him in the 80’s, where he speeds through the processes used in creating his various ‘fakes’ as well as giving a very historically knowledgable run down on the artist in question and their working methods.

I bring this to mind as in the artist round table (9th Jan 2022) I mentioned a peculiar technique of creating an incredibly thin line, by drawing into varnish - which is taken from the following video (watch 14:34 in the YouTube clip at the link below for that bit)

Episode 1 - Tom Keating on Turner

The whole series is available on there too, the episodes are short and well worth a look, as while materials are outdated in many regards, his overviews of the lives of various artists is great. Simultaneously he demonstrates a speedy automacity and fluent technique in drawing which only comes with many hours of pushing paint around.


Episode links for quick reference:-

Episode 1 - Turner

Episode 2 - Titian

Episode 3 - Constable

Episode 4 - Rembrandt

Episode 5 - Degas

Episode 6 - Restoring & Varnishing Paintings

I just watched the Titian video. What a powerhouse this guy is. A show for real painters. You have Tom Keating and we have Bob Ross. Speaks volumes about our cultures. I’ll be sure to watch the other videos. Thanks for sharing!


I live just two miles down the road from Dedham, where he used to frequent! (And of course, I’m also a few miles from “Constable country”)


I added a bunch of his videos to a YouTube playlist. Thanks for the post. Anxious to take a look.


I just watched the episode on restoration. I love this guy. …Or should I say “bloke”?

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i wonder how many of the surviving pubs in the area still have one of his “potboilers” hanging about (the hackneyed ‘biscuit tin’ scenic country paintings he supplied in exchange for a tab behind the bar)

he wrote a book documenting his life “the fake’s progress” (at the insistence of the journalists that made him famous/infamous) - its an entertaining read, you may be able to find a cheap second hand copy knocking about somewhere if you’re interested in his life story, a bunch of art anecdotes historical notes and pearls of wisdom in there.

That sounds fascinating. I’ll see if I can find it. Thanks.

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When I go on a trip to the UK I’ll have to do the potboiler tour of pubs and drink a toast to the old rascal.

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