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Elizabeth F. Bennett

[ Chang Ta-ch’ien ; Chang Dai–chien ; hao Dafengtang]

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

Chinese painter, calligrapher, collector and forger . From an artistic family, he began to paint under the tutelage of his mother, Ceng Yi, and did his first paid painting for the local fortune-teller when he was 12 years old. Zhang’s elder sister gave him his first lessons in the classics. At 15 he embarked on three years of schooling at the Qiujing Academy in Chongqing. In 1917 he went to Kyoto in Japan to join his elder brother Zhang Shanzi (1882–1940). Here, Daqian learnt the art of textile painting, and the brothers collaborated in painting tigers: Shanzi painted the animals and Daqian the surroundings. Shanzi kept a pet tiger in the house, using it as his artistic model. In 1919 Zhang returned to China, where he continued his studies in Shanghai with the scholar Ceng Xi. He also studied with the artist Li Ruiqing (1867–1920) and was exposed to Li’s calligraphy in seal script (...

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.; ...