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Meetings with Remarkable Forgeries (British History)
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Mick Harper
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I was reminded of this when reading about Spitzer's Cross (because, Wiley, I couldn't see what was otherwise significant). It's all rather spookily coming back to me now.

On discovering Franks' interest in enamel (I think specifically identifying expensive Limoges enamels from the ordinary kind) I looked up 'enamel' because I sort of associated the word with my childhood. You know, a bit like 'bakelite'. Enamel saucepans, rather than radios. It seemed frightfully up-to-date so I was a bit surprised to find it was all the rage in the nineteenth century. I was really surprised when it started turning up in medieval contexts. Really, really surprised in really early medieval contexts.

The point being that if the process had been around for so long, we wouldn't still be going round saying 'mind my enamel saucepan' (I think it chips or something). We've practically stopped referring to non-stick pans and that's after fifty years. We need Chad on this, he's always got identical childhood memories to me despite being northern. Probably richer to compensate. We 'ad nobbut enamel saucepans and now't to go in 'em. Plus he's a materials scientist or something.

It seems pretty unlikely but it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that enamel is a smoking gun. We ought to find out and put it to bed one way or the other.
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Hatty
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An enamelled gold cup bequeathed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art was found to be a modern fake. Originally sold as a fifteenth-century Renaissance work, the workmanship appeared ahead of its time and the Met had to revise the cup's date forwards to the sixteenth century (but still Italian)

In 1909, it was acquired from a London dealer by the department store magnate Benjamin Altman; and it was famous as the “Cellini Cup” even before it came to the Metropolitan with the Altman bequest in 1913. In 1969 one of the Metropolitan’s curators, Dr. Yvonne Hackenbroch, published an article pointing out that the cup was too late stylistically to be the work of Benvenuto Cellini. She therefore attributed it to Jacopo Bilivert or Biliverti, an unusually talented goldsmith from Delft employed by the Medici in Florence in the last quarter of the sixteenth century. After this, it was renamed the “Rospigliosi Cup,” because of its provenance from the treasures of the Roman princely family of Rospigliosi.

Then, shortly before the V&A was faced with the evidence of 'Renaissance' pieces forged by Reinhold Vasters (1827-1909)

Now, however, Dr. Hackenbroch has changed everything once more by her monograph, “Reinhold Vasters, Goldsmith,” in the recently published Metropolitan Museum Journal for 1984–1985. If you care for learned, intricate detective stories centering on works of art, you will find one in Dr. Hackenbroch’s sober one-hundred-plus copiously illustrated pages. But the real point is that the ex-Cellini cup has now turned out to be a fake. And as the cup’s probable maker, Biliverti has now been abruptly replaced by Reinhold Vasters, who worked in the nineteenth century instead of the sixteenth.

https://www.nybooks.com/articles/1986/10/23/the-fakers-art/
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Mick Harper
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Of course the irony is that this great artist, Rheinhold Vasters, the equal of Cellini and Bilivert, is in the books as a blackguard. Or perhaps not, since he is subject to the Stockholm 1912 rule, the fate of all forgers.
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Chad


In: Ramsbottom
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We 'ad nobbut enamel saucepans and now't to go in 'em.

I remember my mother buying me an enamel mug and bowl (white with blue rims) the first time I went camping with the cubs… kept them for years… The enamel coating was made up of a slurry of china clay and powdered glass fired onto the metal base.

The process would have been around though, for as long as glass has been manufactured… any metal stirring tools would naturally pick up a nice enamel coating. And I remember seeing Egyptian enamelled artifacts at the museum in Luxor… Tut’s treasure is covered in the stuff.

The enamelware we remember, is just a modern take on a very old process (the addition of china clay being the only innovation). Original decorative formulation was just powdered glass (pigmented with metal ores).

No smokin' gun I’m afraid.
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Mick Harper
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I like a theory that is put to the sword so elegantly, to mix your metaphor. Now explain why enamel become a) a fashionable adjunct in the nineteenth century and b) a utilitarian one in the twentieth. The way you describe it, it should have been an every day item for the last five thousand years, not have been fashionable in the nineteenth and reborn in the twentieth century. There must have been some specific technical developments, and that might still rule out medieval clobber if these techniques are found to be present. I am clutching at straws but, hey, it's only the theory de nos jour.

PS Like whalebone (or whale bone) became fashionable in the nineteenth century cf Franks' (non) Anglo-Saxon casket.

PPS I just realised china clay was only made in the west from the late eighteenth century (to make porcelain). Was that the key?
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Wile E. Coyote


In: Arizona
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Hatty wrote:
An enamelled gold cup bequeathed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art was found to be a modern fake. Originally sold as a fifteenth-century Renaissance work, the workmanship appeared ahead of its time and the Met had to revise the cup's date forwards to the sixteenth century (but still Italian)

In 1909, it was acquired from a London dealer by the department store magnate Benjamin Altman; and it was famous as the “Cellini Cup” even before it came to the Metropolitan with the Altman bequest in 1913. In 1969 one of the Metropolitan’s curators, Dr. Yvonne Hackenbroch, published an article pointing out that the cup was too late stylistically to be the work of Benvenuto Cellini. She therefore attributed it to Jacopo Bilivert or Biliverti, an unusually talented goldsmith from Delft employed by the Medici in Florence in the last quarter of the sixteenth century. After this, it was renamed the “Rospigliosi Cup,” because of its provenance from the treasures of the Roman princely family of Rospigliosi.

Then, shortly before the V&A was faced with the evidence of 'Renaissance' pieces forged by Reinhold Vasters (1827-1909)

Now, however, Dr. Hackenbroch has changed everything once more by her monograph, “Reinhold Vasters, Goldsmith,” in the recently published Metropolitan Museum Journal for 1984–1985. If you care for learned, intricate detective stories centering on works of art, you will find one in Dr. Hackenbroch’s sober one-hundred-plus copiously illustrated pages. But the real point is that the ex-Cellini cup has now turned out to be a fake. And as the cup’s probable maker, Biliverti has now been abruptly replaced by Reinhold Vasters, who worked in the nineteenth century instead of the sixteenth.

https://www.nybooks.com/articles/1986/10/23/the-fakers-art/


Vaster's Renaissance of the Renaissance is just a further turn or so of a spinning wheel.
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Chad


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Mick Harper wrote:
The way you describe it, it should have been an every day item for the last five thousand years, not have been fashionable in the nineteenth and reborn in the twentieth century.

Well, enamelware (pots, pans, baths, sinks) was invented in the nineteenth century and has been around (alongside decorative enamelling) ever since... not exactly a rebirth.

And (without wishing to sound like some sort of ‘Ish-lite’) any discontinuity (of decorative enamelling) throughout earlier periods, is likely an artefact of conventional chronology.

But, since that is the background you are obliged to work against, you can use the fact that it (seemingly) comes into (and goes out of) fashion, in various places, at different times, to your advantage.
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Mick Harper
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I am assuming that the adding of china clay is what sparked the modern revival -- in both uses -- but that is not going to be very helpful since they are never going to test any of these 'medieval' pieces for the presence of china clay, assuming you can do so. And so we say farewell to tales from the camp fire. Mine was a pint mug, so call me Akela.
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Boreades


In: finity and beyond
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Even Wiki editors want to know more. Note the "[when?]". A novel variation on "citation needed"?

The ancient Egyptians applied enamels to stone objects, pottery, and sometimes jewellery, although to the last less often than in contemporaneous cultures in the Near East.[when?] The ancient Greeks, Celts, Georgians, and Chinese also used enamel on metal objects.[4]:1[when?]


Enamel in Britain, but called Roman.

Enamel was also used to decorate glass vessels during the Roman period, and there is evidence of this as early as the late Republican and early Imperial periods in the Levant, Egypt, Britain and around the Black Sea. Enamel powder could be produced in two ways, either by powdering coloured glass, or by mixing colourless glass powder with pigments such as a metallic oxide.


What about the "modern" stuff?

Enamel was first applied commercially to sheet iron and steel in Austria and Germany in about 1850. Industrialization increased as the purity of raw materials increased and costs decreased.


Vorsprung durch Technik. Or the Four-spring Duck Technique, as it was known in Devon.
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Mick Harper
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Germany, or rather Prussia, were the world-leaders in 'chemical' processes by 1850. But, as far as I know, they had no use for china clay which was, as far as I know, only used for porcelain at this time. Surely you wouldn't use powdered glass to treat any old iron.

But Germany had Meissen. Or rather Saxony did. Became part of 'Prussia' in 1871. Something there, dunno what. Blue-and-white Delftware, I've heard of that. Chinese porcelain is all blue-and-white, isn't it?

cyanide in water is called hydrocyanic acid, or prussic acid. It was discovered in 1782 by a Swedish chemist, Carl Wilhelm Scheele, who prepared it from the pigment Prussian blue. Hydrogen cyanide and its compounds are used for many chemical processes, including fumigation, the case hardening of iron and steel,…
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Boreades


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Mick Harper wrote:
Mine was a pint mug, so call me Akela.


Alexa / Akela, get me some china clay.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=china+clay
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Hatty
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Porcelain was 'white gold', obviously because it was highly valued but also perhaps referring to its alchemical origins; a German alchemist, Johann Böttger, detained at King Augustus II's pleasure, was eventually to claim he could manufacture porcelain

At the beginning of the eighteenth century Johann Friedrich Böttger pretended he had solved the dream of the alchemists, to produce gold from worthless materials. When King Augustus II of Poland heard of it, he kept him in protective custody and requested him to produce gold. For years Johann Friedrich Böttger was unsuccessful in this effort.

At the same time, Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus, a mathematician and scientist, experimented with the manufacture of glass, trying to make porcelain as well. Crucially, his ingredients included kaolin, the vital ingredient of true porcelain, though he was unable to use it successfully. Tschirnhaus supervised Böttger and by 1707 Böttger reluctantly started to help in the experiments by Tschirnhaus.

When Tschirnhaus suddenly died, the recipe apparently was handed over to Böttger, who within one week announced to the King that he could make porcelain. Böttger refined the formula and with some Dutch co-workers, experienced in firing and painting tiles, the stage was set for the manufacturing of porcelain.

Meissen was the first to produce 'true' porcelain but within a few years the formula was leaked

But Germany had Meissen. Or rather Saxony did.

We came across an indirect link with Meissen when unravelling the history of the manuscript of Casanova's life story. The general director of fine arts and later a cabinet minister, Count Marcolini, had been shown the book in manuscript form in 1797, the year before Casanova's death. But Marcolini was a busy man

Sèvres styles and ventures into Neoclassicism, such as unglazed matte biscuit porcelain wares that had the effect of white marble, marked the manufactory's output under Count Camillo Marcolini, who ran the factory from 1774 to 1813

According to Casanovan researchers, sixteen years after seeing the memoirs Count Marcolini decided he wanted to publish them

After the Battle of Leipzig (1813), Marcolini remembered the manuscript

According to Wiki, Count Marcolini didn't have much opportunity or time

after the Battle of Leipzig he followed Frederick Augustus I of Saxony into exile, dying in Prague the next year.

though Prague rounds the story off nicely.
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Mick Harper
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I think we can safely discount all the early hocus-pocus. As we have learned with bogus material going back to Gawain and the Green Knight, any time someone's reported as having done time in prison we are dealing with (literally) a back-story. My guess would be the technique was brought back from China but they had to obscure that for reasons of ... patents? prestige? justifying the alchemical budget? ... dunno. Which reminds me, silk and Lyons has an important part to play somewhere or other. Though not Marco Polo, I think he turned out to be fictional too, didn't he? Marco Polo ... Marcolini... we never found out what an Italian was doing as a cabinet minister in Dresden, did we? Have we ruled him out as author of Casanova's Life?

But we haven't got very far in our porcelain-to-enamel story. Porcelain itself didn't get far because while the Continentals were using it, as usual, strictly for dinner services to set before the king, the Brits were as usual turning it into 'china' for the masses (I don't know the difference) and making real money and real progress. This is surely what happened to enamel except the Germans (as now becomes usual) were galvanising themselves with steel and making even greater progress.

I can't help thinking Limoges is important. It's in the right place, if nothing else. I get confused in lock-down. Everything was fine when I was just a recluse.
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Hatty
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Following the sale the Prince abandoned collecting for the remaining 27 years of his life which only increased curiosity about him and the objects he owned on the part of collectors, museum officials, and the public. ... All of these factors played a role in the continued fascination about Prince Pierre Soltikoff.

Public curiosity and 'continued fascination' may have been engendered but for some reason no celeb biography came out. Even in Ms Brennan's up-to-the-minute work, details are quite sketchy. In a footnote we're informed that

Prince Pierre Soltikoff married Vera Stimpowski

No date of the wedding is given, no gazette notices, no online references for 'Vera Stimpowski' (except in Russian Wiki). But, as noted in the footnote, they had three children

His children were Nathalie (1829-1860), Dimitry (b. 1827) and Jean (b. ca. 1828).

The same absence of reportage but Soltykoff was probably an unknown entity at the time, in Europe anyway. But perhaps the paparazzi would home in on Soltykoff's second marriage in 1868 to Madame Henriette-Charlotte Duforc d'Hargeville which took place in Paris, the location of the recent 1861 sale of the century? Seems not. As with Vera, no mention of Henriette-Charlotte Dufour, or Dufourc, appears online except for Russian Wiki.

It would be useful to have someone who can read Russian so Ms Brennan turned to Galena Korneva and Mrs. Krasnova, independent researchers, for information. But France is where the action was and Ms Brennan provides one source for the two Soltykoff wives -- the Françoise Arquié-Bruley Archive, in the Louvre. Françoise Arquié-Bruley (1923-1999) researched art history and produced a 248-page book, Debruge Duménil (1788-1838) et sa collection d'objets d'art (1990), which may be why her archive is in the Louvre.

The source for Soltykoff's inventory, a "photocopied document in nineteenth-century written French from notarial archives" (dated 1889), is from the same archive source, though Soltykoff apparently never got round to a Last Will & Testament.
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Mick Harper
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I must say I got exactly the same impression from Christine Brennan's paper. Just as I did from the one on Augustus Franks. Both of which represent the last word in our detailed knowledge of these people. The problem with all these researchers is that
(a) they are transfixed by the works of art
(b) have no expertise (why should they?) in tracing people but above all
(c) start from the assumption that everything is all as it seems.

Not surprisingly they follow the trail of breadcrumbs carefully provided by people who are professional confidence tricksters. As we have seen with Spitzer, nothing changes even if (c) above changes. The only advantage we have (and by 'we' I mean us here though it should not have to be) is that we have the matchless resource of the internet. Like scientific dating, it's not something they foresaw. We will round them up yet and haul them off to jail. All right, maybe it's a bit late for that but we can certainly haul a lot of bogus history off to wherever that goes. Gaol, I suppose.
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