A History of Art Forgery

Prior to the Renaissance, a required part of every artist's training was to copy the works of the Masters. Many of the Old Masters themselves created paintings featuring the same subjects as their predecessors, but none were accused of art forgery.

Jan Sorel, Paracelsus; Louvre, Paris

Rubens, Paracelsus; Musee des Beaux-Arts, Brussels

Around 1794, the English sculptor John Flaxman was commissioned to illustrate some books on Dante, Homer and Aeschylus with simple outline drawings. The simplicity of his drawings, once published, gained them a reputation as an “academic textbook for art students”, now referred to as “Flaxman’s Outlines”

Above, one of the Illustrations for Canto XXIII of Dante, Inferno, published
in 1807 was part of this work.

No less an artist than Francisco de Goya (1747-1828) reworked Flaxman’s design
for his own Three Pairs of Hooded Figures, india ink on buff-coloured laid paper,
Biblioteca Nacional, Madrid. Quite a few masterpieces by other artists including
David (1748-1825), Ingres, William Blake (1757-1827), Pinelli and others have
been based upon these original works by Flaxman.

From The Art Forger’s Handbook by Eric Hebborn,Woodstock, NY: The Overlook Press 1997, ©Archaeus Fine Art, London, 1997

Intro  (1)  (2)  (3)  (4)  (5)  (6)  (7)  (8)  (9)
(10)  (11)  (12)  (13)  (14)  (15)  (16)  (17)
 (18)  (19)  (20)

Look for updates to this exhibit every week.

Also visit the companion to this exhibit: FABULOUS FAKES

Special thanks to people without whom this exhibition would not have been possible: Thea Eichler, NRCA; Billie Tucker, New Rochelle Library; Ivar Hyden, Backstreet Gallery and all the contributing artists.

Additional information about the availability of Fabulous Fakes, the History of Art Forgery or any of the works in the exhibition may be obtained by contacting The New Rochelle Council on The Arts by email or by calling 212-529-2025. More information on the NRCA can be found by connecting to the internet and clicking here.


Fabulous Fakes and A History of Art Forgery © J. L. Dolice, 2001, 2003.

All images in this presentation may not be copied, stored in any electronic retrieval device or used in any way without permission in writing. ISBN 0-935901-51-5.

Art Forgery Art Haus