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Sarah E. Fraser

[Chang Ta-ch’ienChang Dai–chienzhaihao Dafengtang]

(b Neijiang, Sichuan Province, May 10, 1899; d Taipei, Apr 2, 1983).

Chinese painter, calligrapher, collector, and accomplished forger. Born Zhang Zhengquan, he was from an artistic family and began to paint under the tutelage of his mother, Zeng Youzhen (1860–1936). In 1917, after passing through Shanghai, he joined his elder brother Zhang Shanzi (1882–1940) in Kyoto, where he learned textile dyeing and weaving.

In 1919 Zhang returned to Shanghai and studied with the calligrapher Zeng Xi (1861–1930), who gave him the name Zhang Yuan, as well as with the painter Li Ruiqing (1867–1920), a specialist in Shitao-style landscapes (1642–1707). Both are credited with cultivating Zhang’s distinctive calligraphic hand. Zhang’s intentionally splayed characters, combined with awkward elements such as leans in unexpected directions, have origins in antiquarian studies (jinshi xue), an element central to Zeng and Li’s practice. Li deployed a seal script (zhuanshu) based on bronzes and stone stele. In December ...

Article

Alessandro Conti

[Igino]

(b Siena, July 18, 1866; d Siena, Jan 23, 1946).

Italian forger, restorer and writer. He is best known for his autobiography, a broad panoramic portrait of life in provincial Italy at the end of the 19th century, which conveys something of the disquiet concerning the loss of Italy’s prestige. He also worked as a skilful forger and restorer at a time when the distinctions between the two activities were blurred. Much of his success as a forger was due to the fact that he imitated either the works of lesser painters (such as Sano di Pietro) or the undistinguished works of more famous artists, which could deceive even a connoisseur. A typical example is his copy of Cecco di Pietro’s Agnano polyptych (Pisa, Mus. N. S Matteo), created as a fraudulent substitution for the original (Rome, Pal. Venezia). Few of Joni’s fakes have stood the test of time, despite the fact that he was in contact with such critics and collectors as Francis Mason Perkins and Robert Langton Douglas. Research into collecting and the art market in late 19th-century America has identified Joni’s role as a restorer in such works as ...

Article

(b Deventer, 1889; d Amsterdam, Dec 30, 1947).

Dutch painter and forger. He studied art at The Hague Academie and obtained his degree in 1914. He became a painter of mediocre talent, though a respected one. It is said that he developed a grievance against the critics who had slighted his work and began to manufacture forgeries of 17th-century Dutch masters, perhaps as early as 1923, in order to avenge himself. In 1932 van Meegeren left the Netherlands and retired to the south of France, where he began experimenting and producing fakes in earnest. His most successful forgery, and perhaps the most famous forgery of modern times, was his Supper at Emmaus (c. 1936; Rotterdam, Mus. Boymans–van Beuningen), painted in imitation of Vermeer, Johannes. The brilliance of the forgery lay in van Meegeren’s decision to represent a work of the least documented early period of Vermeer’s career. Knowing that experts were alert to Italian influences on Vermeer’s work, van Meegeren based his composition on a Caravaggio painting of the same title (London, N.G.; ...