Aspects of Art Forgery by H. Van De Waal, Th. Würtenberger, W. Froentjes (auth.)

By H. Van De Waal, Th. Würtenberger, W. Froentjes (auth.)

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This becomes quite obvious when we put the original side by side with the fake: A forger took the figure of a dancer from one of Degas' famous drawings. It is a very clumsy-looking imitation, which appeared a few years ago on the Berlin art market. The forger's figure lacks the fine, fleeting line and the floating detachment which so distinguish Degas' ballet figures. All this emerges quite elearly when we compare the copy with 26 PROFESSOR DR. THOMAS WÜRTENBERGER the original in detail. The instinctive assurance and naive unconcern of a French Impressionist are such conspicuous personal characteristics that no copyist can ever conjure them on to paper in the same way.

After the war the church authorities commissioned the restorer Fey and the painter Malskat to uncover and preserve the old paintings in the elerestory of the choir. Working quickly and in complete secrecy, Fey and Malskat succeeded in painting twentyone almost completely new figures standing on the capitals of pillars, according to their own invention, using models from art books. e. about 97%, was added by Malskat in free composition in medieval style. The desire for recognition and profit formed the motives for the two forgers, who had also forged and sold large numbers of works of modern art, until they were sentenced by the court to fairly lengthy terms of imprisonment.

As a third expert witness. The case concerned the faked Frans Hals to which Van de Waal also refers in his lecture. The chemical examination showed that the medium used (glue), as well as some of the pigments (induding zinc white) were inconsistent with the attribution to Frans Hals. After this defeat, Hofstede de Groot, who had discovered the painting, not only attacked his fellow art historians viciously, but also gave Scheffer some rough handling in his book Echt ofOnecht? * The resistance of the art historian of that time to chemical examination of paintings can be seen dearly from the preface to the book in question, in which Hofstede de Groot says: "In matters of pictorial art the eye should be the finaljudge, as in music the ear.

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