Fakes, fakes everywhere (ctd.)

October 17 2016

Image of Fakes, fakes everywhere (ctd.)

Picture: L'Express

In response to the latest developments in the fake scandal, the director of the Liechtenstein collection has issued a statement about the Cranach Venus (above) suspected of being a forgery:

Taking into account all the evidence, and all examinations to date, the Princely Collections have no reason to doubt the authenticity of the painting, its authorship to Lucas Cranach the Elder, and the origin of the panel to the 16th Century. 

These examinations include, but are not limited to:

- The expert reports available at the time of the acquisition, given by the Cranach experts Dieter Koepplin and Werner Schade.

- Two restoration reports commissioned before the acquisition by the Princely Collections in 2013, as well as several other subsequent restoration reports. 

- The dendrochronological analysis executed by Peter Klein at the Zentrum Holzwirtschaft of the University of Hamburg, which was commissioned by the Princely Collections after the acquisition of the painting.

- The expert report received from Claus Grimm after the seizure of the painting earlier this year.

Any divergent opinions resulting from recent analysis instructed by the French authorities can and will be refuted, point by point, as part of an ongoing investigation. 

We would like to express our frustration that results of this ongoing investigation have been repeatedly passed on to members of the public, and before information has even been made available to us. We will not make any other public comment while the investigation in ongoing. 

Dr. Johann Kraeftner 


LIECHTENSTEIN, The Princely Collections

The Cranach scholar Dieter Koepplin, whom Kraeftner cites in the painting's defence above, has now changed his mind, and says he thinks the picture is now not only not by Cranach, but a fake. There is nothing in Kraeftern's statement about the fact that the provenance provided with the painting at the time of the sale has apparently turned out to be false.

I personally suspect the painting might turn out to be a fake, as the Hals that ultimately came from the same source has proved to be. That, of course, is not to say that anyone involved in the sale at the time had reason to suspect the painting was a fake.

Nevertheless, from recent conversations with multiple trusted sources, I regret to report that we have only seen the tip of the iceberg in all this fake business. It's going to get a lot worse.

Update - a reader writes:

If no modern, synthesised pigments or other materials are found in the Cranach and it is, according to all available expertise, utterly indistinguishable from a genuine Cranach, then surely the only remaining barrier to the enjoyment of the painting as a genuine masterpiece of European art by a genuine European master artist, is the shadow cast by entirely fallible ... doubt?

I do agree that whoever made these pictures (if they are all proved to be fake) is indisputably a great painter. I'm full of admiration for their artistic ability. The question is, who are they? (Feel free to get in touch...)

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