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The portrait of Peniston Lamb by Maria Cosway (1760-1838) in the home of owners Hugh and Mirabel Cecil. Image credit: BBC.

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The show, to be broadcast at 9pm on BBC One, features an investigation by Mould, presenter Fiona Bruce and the Fake or Fortune? team in to whether an 18th century portrait attributed to the lesser-known female artist Maria Cosway (1760-1838) is in fact by Lawrence.

The difference in value is huge – Cosway’s works are valued at around £8000 but, if it turns out to be by Lawrence, it could worth £500,000.

The painting has been passed down the generations of the Cecil family and now belongs to Hugh and Mirabel Cecil.

Mould saw the painting previously when visiting their home and believed it to by Lawrence, one of his favourite artists. However, the Cecils said that they believed it to be a portrait by Cosway of Hugh’s distant ancestor Peniston Lamb.


A portrait of Peniston Lamb attributed to female artist Maria Cosway (1760-1838) but that dealer Philip Mould believes could be by Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830). Image credit: BBC.

The programme will show how the team investigated the portrait’s history by visiting some of the grandest houses in the UK. Lamb was part of the well-connected, high-society Melbourne family and the portrait passed through a number of branches and relations in various locations over the years.

The programme also details the life of artist and musician Cosway. Born in Florence to English parents, when she came to London she was taken under the wing of fellow female artist Angelica Kauffman.

Mould, meanwhile, tries to build a case for revealing Lawrence’s hand in the portrait and visits the V&A costume department to see if he can more accurately date the painting.

The programme will eventually reveal whether it is indeed the hand of Cosway or whether Mould has recovered a lost portrait by Lawrence.