MemberlistThe Library Index  FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   RegisterRegister   ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 
Forgery: Modus operandi (British History)
Reply to topic Goto page Previous  1, 2, 3, ... 22, 23, 24  Next
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Hatty
Site Admin

In: Berkshire
View user's profile
Reply with quote

The mention of 'sinologist' is a reminder that Oriental studies began in the 1840s and '50s but really took off when Augustus Franks set up a department and made himself the leading expert

in 1851 was appointed assistant in the Antiquities Department of the British Museum. Here, and as director of the Society of Antiquaries, an appointment he received in 1858 , he made himself the first authority in England upon medieval antiquities of all descriptions, upon porcelain, glass, the manufactures of savage nations, and in general upon all Oriental curiosities and works of art later than the Classical period.

Franks was not such an Oriental expert as the British Museum and others claim. Take for example the so-called Oxus Treasure, a trove of metal objects allegedly from the bank of the Oxus river, many of which Franks bought and bequeathed to the BM. Counterfeit coins were still turning up as late as 1977 that were in fact copied from the mould taken of the first known example Augustus Franks donated to the museum, i.e. forgeries of a forgery. Many Oxus objects, not just the coins, are still said to be genuine by museum directors and scholars even though

We know that the Oxus Treasure suffered inevitable contamination from forged material as it passed through the region on its way to avid European collectors

Actually the 'original' treasure was almost certainly forged. Nothing's known about the excavation site though a river bank is most useful seeing how it can throw up 'finds' for years (as per the Shadwell Forgeries) and 'inevitably' disposes of archaeological context.

But as noted already, even back then museums required authentication. One of the more alarming niggles in Franks' story is his getting custodianship of the Henry Christy collection in 1866 and keeping it for eighteen years while his assistant did the cataloguing.

In 1866 the British and medieval antiquities, with the ethnographical collections, were formed into a distinct department under his superintendence; and the Christy collection of ethnography in Victoria Street, London, prior to its amalgamation with the British Museum collections, was also under his care.

The catalogue is of course key to authenticating a collection. Quis custodiet the custodian?
Send private message
Mick Harper
Site Admin

In: London
View user's profile
Reply with quote

We know that the Oxus Treasure suffered inevitable contamination from forged material as it passed through the region on its way to avid European collectors

This is an absolutely typical piece of rascality from the academics and curators. Key words: "we know" and "inevitable". They start off by accepting 100% of some source of supply is genuine. Then someone points out something even they have to accept is bogus, so they pat themselves on the back for finding a forgery and declare it's a bad apple. Then more forgeries turn up so they come up with a 'system error' explanation which means they can carry on maintaining the source is genuine but can quietly remove any number without embarrassment. Consider, for example, what is required for the Oxus Treasure to be "contaminated as it passes through the region".

What y'got there?
The Oxus Treasure, on its way to the British Museum.
Hold on, let me slip in a forgery.
Why?
No point really, bit of a larf though.
But how are you going to do it?
What do you mean?
Well, you'd have to have a forged piece consistent with the rest of the Treasure, wouldn't you?
True. Give me a shufti and I'll knock something up.
Yeah, but if it's good enough to fool them why not 'discover' it independently yourself and sell it to the British Museum?
Could do. Could do.

All these explanations are what is called 'academic chat' i.e. an expert coming up with something for which there is no evidence but sounds plausible if you don't think about it very much and, as we know, they don' t think about it very much. Except for thinking up plausible sounding reasons why the 100% is constantly on the skids. Preferably completely circular ones. But believe me, the Oxus shall freeze over before they just say, "OK, the Oxus Treasure turned out to be a fake. Sorry about that. Next!"

What do you mean, it freezes over every year?
Send private message
Mick Harper
Site Admin

In: London
View user's profile
Reply with quote

Quis curatoriet ipsos curiatores?

Well, there's us and there’s Levi Roach who’s bringing out a book on forgeries this year (plenty of curators are demanding an early sight of that one, I can tell you) and ... oh, lots of people.
Send private message
Mick Harper
Site Admin

In: London
View user's profile
Reply with quote

But underlying everything is the old 'filling in the paradigm' problem. Paradigms get established before anybody knows very much about a given subject and are, at that stage, simply 'best guesses'. They either stand or fall. But if they stand for any length of time they become taught as something more than best guesses. As de facto 'that's the way it happened' however much they are hedged around with caveats.

This is when the filling in process starts. If a discovery fits the paradigm it goes straight in, it if doesn't it gets 'interpreted' in. In exceptional circumstances the paradigm itself gets stretched to include it. Before long the paradigm is so stuffed full of all sorts that this in turn is presented as "the evidence is overwhelming". The paradigm is now self-evidently true, and taught as such. But the key to the whole process is that everyone concerned is highly expert in fitting the evidence to the conclusion, whether it fits or not. It has to fit since the conclusion is a given.

This is the situation between forger and forgee. Auction houses, curators and academics all have a vested interest in the discovery of, say, an early medieval casket, so the forger can rely on auction houses, curators and academics 'filling in the gaps'. If, say, there's a blatant anachronism of a Christian symbol appearing on an ostensibly pagan casket, this will be taken as evidence that the pagans were being Christianised. Indeed, it might launch whole new histories! What is amazing is that the value of the casket is actually enhanced because it is now a crucial piece of evidence that pagans were being Christianised back in the ... whenever it was.
Send private message
Mick Harper
Site Admin

In: London
View user's profile
Reply with quote

The 'whenever it was' can be shifted around pretty much without limits because art styles themselves are pretty much timeless. But not as far as the nineteenth century which is why early medieval caskets may not be scientifically dated, as opposed to stylistically dated, on pain of ... well, there aren't many auctioneers, curators and academics on skid row so whatever the punishment is, it seems to be a very effective deterrent.
Send private message
Mick Harper
Site Admin

In: London
View user's profile
Reply with quote

But one day there shall arise from their ranks a mighty figure who cares naught for... Just kidding.
Send private message
Mick Harper
Site Admin

In: London
View user's profile
Reply with quote

An old (2010) Fake or Fortune was shown on BBC-4 last night, on the life and crimes of Han van Meegeren. It will have you in fits besides beautifully illustrating all the factors we have been listing here and on the other two forgery threads. (Yes, I know, it's taking over but that's your fault not ours.)

One thing of particular relevance was the time factor: you can knock off an Old Master in an afternoon, but it takes a helluva time to dry. The old joke about it 'still being wet' turned out to be true in the sense that unless a painting is really old you can still rub the paint off with a dubry stick treated with thingummy. It wasn't explained too much, I suppose in case we all start doing it at our local gallery. Funnily enough you will do no harm unless it's a fake. And then you would be doing some real harm.

But anyway, two points. First of all, it was abundantly clear that van Meegeren produced hundreds (it could even be thousands) of fakes, nearly all of which are still 'out there'. Secondly, he used a form of bakelite to avoid the wet paint problem so they can all be identified with a simple and unambiguous test. They're still out there.
Send private message
Wile E. Coyote


In: Arizona
View user's profile
Reply with quote

Mick Harper wrote:
It will have you in fits besides beautifully illustrating all the factors we have been listing here and on the other two forgery threads. (Yes, I know, it's taking over but that's your fault not ours.)


I must admit (thanks AE), I have recently taken more of a interest in the other side of the coin, the destruction of monuments artifacts and manuscripts. Wiley might flip this.

Can't do any harm......
Send private message
Wile E. Coyote


In: Arizona
View user's profile
Reply with quote

But maybe not on this thread, wouldn't want to harm anyone's balls....
Send private message
Mick Harper
Site Admin

In: London
View user's profile
Reply with quote

Except for cross-fertilisation purposes.
Send private message
Hatty
Site Admin

In: Berkshire
View user's profile
Reply with quote

I was amazed to see the art forger John Myatt in the BBC programme on Meegeren forgeries as I'm in the middle of Provenance which tells the story of the Drewe and Myatt forgeries. Their success was down to Drewe, a self-styled 'professor' and 'nuclear physicist' inter alia, gaining access to gallery archives and conning curators and museum directors with copies of genuine documents to authenticate Myatt's fakes. Myatt himself said the standard of his paintings was pretty rubbish.

Meegeren used the Franks method of provenance and it worked. He simply informed the Courtauld his wife had bought The Procuress 'in an antique shop in Nice'.
Send private message
Mick Harper
Site Admin

In: London
View user's profile
Reply with quote

But not usually. The wife had to kept clear so the millions could be handed over to her, then a sham divorce, then the money couldn't be touched if hubbie was caught. Though one thing forgers need not fear much is being caught. Your John Myatt, I believe, got four months for being the most successful forger of the century. How they always manage to die in poverty beats me.
Send private message
Mick Harper
Site Admin

In: London
View user's profile
Reply with quote

By the way, it's AEL policy to put the boot in as much as you like with the BM, the BL and the V & A but keep the Courtauld right out of it. Too many connections with the secret state.
Send private message
Mick Harper
Site Admin

In: London
View user's profile
Reply with quote

I want to get this straight because it's a matter of provenance.

1. Meghan wants Tiara A from the Royal Collection for her wedding
2. She is told she can't have it because of the 'unknown provenance of the diamonds'
3. Courtiers offer her Tiara B
3. Harry demands she should have Tiara A if that's what she wants, it's her wedding etc etc
4. Courtiers continue in their refusal
5. Queen steps in and rules in courtiers' favour
6. Meghan has hissy-fit, Harry goes ballistic, Kate gives Meghan a black eye, Harry tries to duff up William, Queen jumps on Harry's back etc etc

The Big Question is this: WTF is a 'diamond provenance' when it's at home? A diamond is judged on many factors, where it comes from not being one of them. Unless it's a blood diamond of course but that cannot be relevant here because royal tiaras pre-date the concept. There is only one explanation for this right regal dust-up: Tiara A is a fake. The diamonds are paste and 'they' daren't let it out on public display for fear of it being exposed. Who they are is the Bigger Question.
Send private message
Mick Harper
Site Admin

In: London
View user's profile
Reply with quote

By the way, it's AEL policy to keep the Royal Family out of it. Too many connections with the secret state.
Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Reply to topic Goto page Previous  1, 2, 3, ... 22, 23, 24  Next

Jump to:  
Page 2 of 24

MemberlistThe Library Index  FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   RegisterRegister   ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 


Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group