|Han van Meegeren, "The Disciples at Emmaus."|
The decades since that war have provided a cast of characters who have drawn or painted or sculpted works intended to look like ancient relics, or like the work of a known master. In the United Kingdom, the very prolific forger Shaun Greenhalgh produced a large but still unknown number of forgeries that he and relatives sold.
|Shaun Greenhalgh, "Faun" (attributed falsely to Gauguin)|
|Wolfgang Beltracchi "Fake Campendonk"|
Discovering fraud in artworks is becoming easier and easier these days, but even so art forgery continues unabated. Indeed, some have suggested that half or even more of the works currently on the market are fake. Not too long ago the well-known Knoedler Gallery was brought low by a ring of forgers. Led by a Long Island woman the ring sold the gallery fakes attributed to luminaries like Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. She had commissioned the works from a Chinese painter in Queens who is said to have painted them in his garage. As the entire story unfolded, the gallery closed, multiple lawsuits and criminal charges resulted, and the painter fled to China.
|Unknown, "Venus with a Veil," attributed to Lucas Cranach|
|Unknown, "Portrait of a Man," attributed to Franz Hals|
Looking at these two paintings, it's easy to see why someone might mistake them for work by each of the two masters. In particular, the "Hals" has the fresh and loose style of the master, although to my eye the background doesn't fit. The "Cranach" looks a great deal like that artist's work, as well.
So who really knows if the high number of fakes reported is true? Perhaps it's even higher.