SatScan® Art featured on BBC1 programme Fake or Fortune


BBC Art series with Fiona Bruce and Philip Mould.

Series 4 episode 3 “A Mystery Old Master”  aired 19 July 2015

The team investigate how a possible 16th-century Italian Old Master found its way into a small English church.



The SmartDrive large scale imaging system SatScan® Art played a crucial role in unravelling the mystery of this old master. Stationed at the Hamilton Kerr Institute near Cambridge the scanner works in the Inferred spectra (IR) looking beneath the surface of paintings for features that reflect back through the many layers of paint and varnish. The system is capable of quickly scanning large areas and was soon able to identify a region of interest within the artwork which had been deliberately painted over. In the program the 5m x 3.5m scanner is shown moving the Inferred camera over the painting and the on screen image being built up as the scanner cruises over the entire artwork.

The painting depicts a biblical scene moments after the crucifixion of Christ, the SatScan IR scan reveals a large tree that can be clearly seen protruding from behind Joseph, indicating that the artist changed his mind with respect to it’s inclusion in the final version. Holding a copy of the SatScan® IR scan image, Rupert Featherstone director at the Cambridge University Hamilton Kerr institute explains that the tree had clearly been painted out by the Artist along with other changes which represents a deliberate alteration of composition.  The technical scan reveals the secrets of how the artist was working and developing the picture, Rupert is quite convinced the unknown artist is deploying a methodology which is known to be typical of the great artists of the 16th century renaissance period. The scientific scans at the Hamilton Kerr Institute undertaken with the SatScan Art installation adds a huge body of evidence with respect to the provenance of the painting, Rupert’s expert conclusion directs the investigation team towards Venice in search of local expert advise on known venetian artists. Backed by additional documentary evidence the team are able to home in on an artist and confirm the painting is indeed a by a little known Italian master Francesco Montemezzano (ca. 1540–after 1602). He was born near Verona, and appears to have been a follower, if not a pupil of Paolo Veronese. He was active both in Venice and the mainland, painting mainly sacred subjects.

After extensive cleaning the painting is returned to it’s rightful place at St John the Baptist’s Church, Tunstall, Lancashire for the congregation to fully enjoy in it’s restored splendor along with it’s newly gained high status as a valuable Italian renaissance masterpiece.

SmartDrive’s SatScan® Art system is used thought the world for Ultra high resolution photography and scientific studies of works of Art..  The high precision of the system allows a variety of data gathering instruments to be easily deployed, providing a multi-functional role from a single installation.  Spectrometers (multispectral scan) allows the user to understand the chemical composition of an artwork and built up a data cube of exact information.  Infrared radiation(IR) provides details of under drawings and X- ray Fluorescence (XRF) can be used to analyse pigments.  To see more of the groundbreaking work undertaken with SatScan® Art systems in studio’s and gallery’s in Washington (USA) London and Cambridge please visit our SatScan® Art imaging page.