Fakes, Forgeries & Facsimiles: The Headless Horseman
Title banner for Fakes, Forgeries & Facsimiles

"The Headless Horseman"

Late 17th-century engraving of a man on horseback, by Pierre Lombart

Pierre Lombart's late 17th-century print of a man on horseback, based on a painting by Sir Anthony Van Dyck, has become known as "The Headless Horseman" thanks to the changing identity of the sitter.

The Folger owns two states of the print. The older one shows Charles I looking very much as he does in Van Dyck's original painting. Burnishing the plate to erase the head, collar, and medal allowed Lombart to re-engrave those areas, transforming it into a portrait of Cromwell.

The slight disturbance around Charles I's head reveals that the plate had already been burnished and re-engraved at least once before the Charles I version was made. In fact, seven different states of this engraving are known, including two with the head of Louis XIV of France, and one with no head at all.

Move the cursor over the image to see both Folger versions.

Fakes, Forgeries & Facsimiles Exhibition Highlights

Can you spot the fake? | Original copies | Facsimile "witchery" | Famous owners? | False imprints | The Headless Horseman | William Henry Ireland | John Payne Collier | Shakespeare's Mulberry Tree |

Exhibition Intro | Visiting the Folger

This page updated January 26, 2004