Fakes, Forgeries & Facsimiles: Original copies
The difference between an original and a copy is sometimes only
a matter of perspective...
Hollar etching, 1640 impression ©
Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677)
Ornatus muliebris Anglicanus or The severall habits of English women
All prints, by their nature,
are reproductions of an image created on another surface. However, etchings
are usually thought of as original works of art, too. Artists such as
Hollar scratched their own compositions directly into a layer of varnish
on a copper plate, using a chemical bath to cut into the plate itself.
Engraving, in contrast, requires gouging lines into the plate by hand.
This laborious task was generally done by copyists working from an artist's
Ornatus muliebris Anglicanus
or The severall habits of English women
[London]: Sold by H. Overton [1734?]
was printed from the same copper plate as the 1640 print, but notice
the heavy cross-hatching now added to the shadows. Etched plates wear
out quickly and have to be re-touched. Even though it was printed over
fifty years after Hollar's death and was re-touched by someone else,
this late impression is still an original Hollar print because the plate
was etched by the man himself. Early impressions have a higher market
value than later ones, but all are "genuine."
etching, 1734 impression ©
of Edwin Forrest as Lear, by Mathew Brady, ca. 1858 ©
of Edwin Forrest as Lear, by Gabriel Harrison, 1872 ©
| This looks like
obvious fakery. However, Gabriel Harrison made no secret of the fact that
he used photographs underneath his paintings of Edwin Forrest. There is
no intent to deceive. Like the mythological origin of painting in the tracing
of shadows on a wall, Harrison used a "shadow" recorded on light-sensitive
paper as the basis for the painting on the right. Ironically, when Harrison
published his portrait of Edwin Forrest as King Lear in a fine press limited
edition book, he assured subscribers that the plates were destroyed after
printing, "so that there is no possibility of duplicates."
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
This page updated January 26, 2004