Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Forgeries and the market

One of the questions posed for later this week is 'how are forgeries placed on the market?'

I look back to my study of the 'Fitzwilliam Goddess', acquired by the Fitzwilliam Museum in 1926 [JSTOR]. The endorsement for the piece was by Sir Arthur Evans. The dealer, Charles Seltman, was known to the museum. The story of the alleged find-spot (the harbour for Knossos) was plausible. The curator was keen to develop the prehistoric collection.

We could consider other pieces such as the Getty kouros. Is it genuine? Or is it a modern creation? Look at the way that parallels were supplied. And there was the creation of a collecting history (with the wrong postal code).

Or there are Cycladic figures attributed by an expert in the field to named sculptors that have turned out to be modern creations. They share one thing in common: they did not come from a secure archaeological context.

And then there is the Amarna princess. Who authenticated it? It was believable because it had the right elements.

So how can we avoid forgeries? Perhaps by acquiring objects that have authenticated collecting histories and that come from known contexts.

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