DescriptionTHE SPANISH FORGER (French, 19th/20th century)
The Betrothal of Saint Ursula, circa 1890
Oil on oak panel presented in an elaborate tabernacle-style frame
17-3/4 x 13-3/4 inches (45.1 x 34.9 cm)
This painting is accompanied by a copy of the catalogue which accompanied the 1978 exhibition of the Spanish Forger's work at the Morgan Library in New York.
The Spanish Forger is the name ascribed to an anonymous painter who, during the latter part of the 19th and early 20th centuries, created a large number of skillful forgeries of medieval miniatures which fooled many scholars, collectors and connoisseurs of the period. Over 200 forgeries by his/her hand have been identified to date.
Although originally believed to have been Spanish, the Forger is now considered to have more likely been French, active in Paris, owing to the fact that a number of the forged panels have been identified as modified copies of medieval paintings published in French books from the 1870s -1880s. Although remarkably deceptive when originally created, the Forger's efforts have since been studied more carefully, and certain inconsistencies have become apparent, including "sugary expressions" which have a strong Victorian flavor rather than the more sober facial expressions consistent with genuine medieval illuminations. Some of the Forger's miniatures have also been identified as modern works owing to the inclusion of secular subject matter that would have been incongruous in authentic medieval religious texts.
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