Sunday 19 January 1997
In 1980 Geraldine Norman outed Hebborn's "Old Master" drawings, which had been accepted as original works by Corot, Piranesi, Breughel and others. (Below, two treatments of Nessus Seizing Deianeira: the top one is by Tiepolo, the bottom one is Hebborn "in the style of".) Reading this book makes it clear that to become a successful "late follower of the Old Masters" takes a great deal of skill, diligence and ingenuity.
First, learn about antique paper and assemble a collection by haunting salerooms, print dealers and antiquarian book-sellers. An indifferent print on thick paper can be "split", thus giving you one large sheet plus the original, undamaged print which can then be resold. Paper can always be roughened, smoothed, smoked, tinted, aged, cleaned or dirtied ("Olive oil may sometimes be the cause of interesting stains"). Next, learn about inks, quills and pens. Who to copy? Hebborn advises the tyro not to aim at the master directly but at one of his followers. "The great artists ... set levels of attainment far beyond our humble talents." After selecting a minor artist who studied under or copied your favourite master, you just have to select saleable subject matter, and you're away.
Hebborn pours scorn on art history as a selective, blinkered narrative told by eccentrics each riding their own hobby-horse. Even truth can be dispensed with, according to Herodotus: "Very few things happen at the right time, and the rest do not happen at all. The conscientious historian will correct these things." Hebborn praises the "saintliness" of scholars, and then advises, in the most indirect way possible, how best to deceive them. "The first rule to be followed when offering works for a learned opinion is to keep quiet ... should they say your work is genuine then, at least for the time being, genuine it is."
The forger is not responsible for the greed or gullibility of those who are secretly hoping that they have cheated you. Hebborn points out that it is not illegal to make a fake drawing or painting. The law takes an interest only when the fake is used to obtain a sum of money grossly in excess of its value. "Above all ask a fair price for [your] handiwork ... DO NOT BE GREEDY," he cautions.
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Arizona shooting: Gun instructor accidentally killed by nine-year-old girl with Uzi
- 2 Miley Cyrus' homeless MTV VMAs date, Jesse Helt, is wanted by the police
- 3 Paul Scholes: Manchester City were so good against Liverpool I felt like turning the television off
- 4 Notting Hill Carnival: Woman shares selfie after being ‘punched in face for telling man to stop groping her’
- 5 Pamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals: 'Mice had holes drilled into their skulls'
Great British Bake Off, episode 4, review: Heat gets turned up as Iain goes into meltdown
Doctor Who kiss sparks Ofcom complaints over 'weird lesbian-lizard perv trip'
Emmys 2014: Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman and Steven Moffat win big awards for Sherlock
Homer Simpson takes the ALS ice bucket challenge because of course he does
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo, gig review: Just what everyone was hoping for
Exclusive: We share blame for creating 'jihad generation', says Muslim strategist
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
Ukip Douglas Carswell defection: Tory MP jumps ship to join Nigel Farage
- < Previous
- Next >