11 Apr 2021

Tales from the back of the painting

From Standing Room Only, 1:43 pm on 11 April 2021

What's on the back of a painting can tell as story as fascinating as what's on the front.

There are not only the obvious - signatures and labels - but all kinds of other tantalising clues.

Three New Zealand art conservators have gathered more than 30 of their favourite paintings where what's on the back - even what the back's made from -  have either solved or posed mysteries.

These rear view stories are collected in a new book, The Back of the Painting,  by Linda Waters from Te Papa, Sarah Hillary who's based at Auckland Art Gallery and Jenny Sherman who's at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery.

Lynn Freeman talks with Linda, Sarah and Jenny about how the idea for the book came about.

The Back of the Painting is published by Te Papa Press.