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.
Will explain back story to fictional kingdom Westeros
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 'Nasa Confirms Six Days of Darkness in December': No, they don't - it's a hoax
- 2 Canadian actor punched in face after 'Islamophobia' experiment goes wrong in wake of Ottawa shooting
- 3 Woman blinded as a child can see again after hitting her head on a coffee table
- 4 Paul Hollywood: Police asked if I wanted them to arrest Mary Berry for vandalism after she 'defaced' my car
- 5 If you think Russell Brand’s new book is confused, you should read what his critics have to say about it
JK Rowling's Harry Potter Halloween stories: Dolores Umbridge was based on real person she 'disliked intensely'
This is what a film sex scene actually looks like on set (mostly awkward)
Cumberbacklash: Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange riles Marvel fans
Best horror films of all time
Benedict Cumberbatch describes the 'explosive' Sherlock sex scene that will never happen
Pope Francis declares evolution and Big Bang theory are real and God is not 'a magician with a magic wand'
Huge surge in Ukip support after EU funding row, according to new poll
Ukip ‘exploiting grooming scandal’ to secure party’s first police chief
Nigel Farage: 'There’s nothing wrong with white people blacking up'
Maureen Lipman says 'she can't vote Labour while Ed Miliband is leader'
Muslims, immigration and teenage pregnancy: British people are ignorant about almost everything