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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