Eric Hebborn was an English painter, draughtsman, art forger and later an author. He was born in 1934 in South Kensington, London, and showed a talent for art from an early age. He attended the Royal Academy and won several prizes, including the British Prix de Rome in Engraving in 1959. He moved to Italy, where he became part of the international art scene and met influential figures such as Soviet spy Sir Anthony Blunt.
Hebborn began to forge drawings by old masters such as Corot, Castiglione, Mantegna, Van Dyck, Poussin, Ghisi, Tiepolo, Rubens, Jan Breughel and Piranesi. He used authentic paper and materials from the period and imitated the style and technique of the original artists. He sold his forgeries through reputable auction houses and galleries, such as Christie's and Sotheby's, and fooled many experts and collectors. He claimed to have produced over 1,000 forgeries, but only a few have been exposed.
Hebborn wrote two autobiographies, Drawn to Trouble (1991) and The Art Forger's Handbook (1996), in which he revealed his methods and motives. He also accused the art world of being corrupt and elitist, and defended his forgeries as works of art in their own right. He said he wanted to expose the ignorance and greed of the experts and dealers who profited from the art market.
Hebborn's life ended mysteriously in 1996, when he was found with a fractured skull on a street near his home in Rome. He died shortly after in hospital. Some believe he was murdered by the mafia, who may have been involved in his forgery business. Others suspect he was killed by an angry collector or dealer who had been duped by him. His death remains unsolved.
Eric Hebborn was a controversial figure who challenged the notions of authenticity and value in art. He was a master of deception who created convincing copies of some of the most famous artists in history. He was also a prolific artist who left behind a legacy of mystery and intrigue.How can one detect art forgery and avoid being deceived by a fake painting? There are several techniques that can help to identify a genuine work of art from a counterfeit one. Here are some of them:
Compare: The best way to tell the difference between a fake painting and an original one is to compare an artwork with other works by the artist. Look for stylistic consistency, signature, date, and provenance. If possible, consult catalogues raisonnÃs or experts who have studied the artist's oeuvre. Be wary of paintings that have no documented history or that appear too good to be true.
Look at materials: Some fakers don't invest much time and money in creating a plausible copy. They may use modern paints, brushes, canvases, or frames that are incompatible with the period or style of the artist. A careful examination of the materials can reveal anachronisms or inconsistencies that betray a forgery. For example, a painting that claims to be from the 16th century should not have synthetic pigments or machine-made canvas.
Check the condition: A painting that is hundreds of years old should show some signs of aging, such as craquelure, fading, discoloration, or restoration. A painting that looks too fresh or pristine may be suspicious. However, some forgers may artificially age their paintings by applying varnish, dirt, or cracks to simulate wear and tear. A scientific analysis can help to determine if the aging is natural or induced.
Smell it: Strange as it may sound, smelling a painting is almost always a foolproof way to spot art forgery. The thing is that the smell of fresh paints is pretty strong. The chances are high that you will distinguish that smell. [^1^] A painting that claims to be old but smells like new paint may be a fake.
Hire art appraisers: Sometimes, the only way to be sure about the authenticity of a painting is to hire a professional art appraiser who can conduct a thorough examination and analysis of the artwork. Art appraisers use various methods and tools, such as microscopy, X-ray, mass spectrometry, infrared reflectography, and artificial intelligence, to detect art forgery. [^2^] [^3^] They can also provide a certificate of authenticity and an appraisal report that can serve as evidence in case of a dispute.
Detecting art forgery is not an easy task, but it is not impossible either. By using these techniques and being cautious and informed, one can avoid being duped by a fake painting and enjoy the beauty and value of a genuine work of art. 29c81ba772