BBC Antiques Roadshow: Austin Osman Spare

For what I believe to be the third time, Austin Osman Spare featured on Sunday’s BBC Antiques Roadshow, this time for a rather delightful portrait of an unknown male.

UK visitors to this site will know that Antiques Roadshow is a popular and influential BBC programme. Nothing of much note in the evaluation but worth a watch… 


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Michael Staley

I saw this at the time of broadcast, and thought it a lovely portrait. The woman talking about the drawing and the artist was clearly enthusiastic about Spare’s work, and I thought her appreciative remark about the way that Spare drew eyes was spot on. I alsdo thought her estimate of the value a good one; she was giving the value not for what she thought it would sell for, but the likely estimate that an auction house such as Christies or Sothebys would assign as a starter to prompt the bidding.


It seems that Spare was one of those artists who was not possessive about his art, and gave it freely away to his subjects. This characteristic can make artists the focus of forgers, but this has not happened to Spare. He does not attract big money and he takes great skill to imitate. It would be more profitable for a forger to make another Samuel Palmer.

Michael Staley

Unfortunately there are some forgeries around, Alan. Poor and sad examples turn up from time to time on ebay. As you say, though, none of them manage his exuberance of line.