Fakes, Forgeries & Facsimiles: Can you spot the fake?
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Can you detect a faked work of art, a forged document, or a recent facsimile of a sixteenth-century printed page? Even experts able to handle the items can be fooled. Below are two examples from the exhibition.

Portrait of David Garrick

Sir Joshua Reynolds, David Garrick, ca. 1770.
Pen and ink wash on paper... or is it?


Although the picture on the left looks like an original drawing at first glance, it is actually an ink-covered photograph of a painting. A dishonest dealer put it in an elaborate frame and sold it as a genuine life-portrait of the actor, David Garrick. Close examination reveals a photographic emulsion under the ink, and a too-perfect resemblance to a finished painting by Sir Joshua Reynolds.


Acquired by the Folger Library in 1938 with volumes from the collection of Sir Robert Leicester Harmsworth, the book on the right had previously been owned by another English book collector, Henry Huth. Its binding is signed by J. Mackenzie, who was active in the 1840s. One of the leaves shown here is a facsimile, probably produced from an etched plate at the time that Mackenzie bound the volume. Can you tell which leaf is the original? Move the cursor over the image to see if you're right.


Johannes Boemus, The fardle of facions conteining the aunciente maner, customes, and lawes, of the people enhabiting the two partes of the earth, called Affrike and Asie. London: by Jhon Kingstone, and Henry Sutton, 1555. ©

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