Real or Forgeries: Nelson Mandela Prison Lithographs

The exhibit, Nelson Mandela at 91, is scheduled to run from July 13 through 31, 2009, at London’s Belgravia Gallery. Many of the lithographs, purportedly by the the former South African President, who will be 91 on July 18, are based on a series of sketches of Robben Island, where Mr. Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years.

The Belgravia Gallery’s web site states:

The lithographs were printed under the supervision of Professor Steven Inggs at the printmaking department of the University of Cape Town to the highest standards of printmaking. The quality is equal to the production of the finest French and British ateliers.”

But Mr. Mandela’s attorney, Bally Chuene, has claimed that the signatures on the lithographs are forgeries. “He did not sign those artworks,” said Mr. Chuene. “It is important to tell the public that they are being deceived.”

Anna Hunter, who managed the Belgravia Gallery, claims that in 2002 she witnessed Mr. Mandela signing the prints. There is a video of the event on the gallery’s web site. Ms. Hunter says that the authenticity of the lithographs and signatures have been verified by Mr. Mandela’s art teacher, his academic printer and a forensic handwriting expert.

The Belgravia Gallery represents Great Britain’s Prince Charles, who has had several lithographs produced based on his watercolor paintings.

See Also:
Mandela artworks are ‘fakes’, London gallery told [Guardian.co.uk; July 12, 2009]
Mandela drawings rekindle dispute with London gallery [CBCnews.ca; July 11, 2009]

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2 thoughts on “Real or Forgeries: Nelson Mandela Prison Lithographs

  1. One more note of interest.

    Watercolors can only be reproduced, resulting in reproductions.

    Lithographs are original works of visual art created by an artist.

    Therefore, that would make Prince Charles, at best, not a connoisseur.

    Unfortunately, that would be an explanation not an excuse for defrauding consumers for thousands of pounds for nothing more than a poster, not to mention the poisoning of the marketplace against legitimate artists who create lithographs with his misrepresentation of reproductions as original works of visual art ie., lithographs.

    By any other name, -prints of thieves-.

    Gary Arseneau
    artist, creator of original lithographs & scholar
    Fernandina Beach, Florida

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