Holy Hoaxes (Paperback)
A Beautiful Deception
This fascinating book tells the story of the building of William M. Voelkle’s collection of fakes and forgeries of manuscript illumination. With thorough essays and beautiful illustrations, Voekle tells the story of nearly seventy fakes and forgeries.
The book takes the reader on a journey that sheds light on the nature and detection of forgery of manuscript illumination. An engaging introduction by Christopher de Hamel raises tantalizing questions that touch on the very meaning of authenticity and our continuing fascination with forgery. Scientific analysis of pigments, the identification of sources, and the scrutiny of the materials all come into play in the unfolding story of the collection.
An illustrated catalogue presents the group of nearly seventy fakes and forgeries that display astonishing breadth. They include not only the Spanish Forger and other Western European miniatures by Ernesto Sprega, Caleb William Wing, and Germano Prosdocimi, and others, but fascinating examples from the Christian East, from Ethiopia, from Mexico, and from Persia and India. Published here in its entirety for the first time, the Voelkle Collection is the only comprehensive one of fakes and forgeries of manuscript painting in private hands.
Voelkle’s fifty-year career at the Morgan Library& Museum was inextricably interwoven with the construction of the collection, which is detailed in the foreword. The personal narrative reveals the author as a collector and a scholar. As an enthusiastic collector, he pursues examples of forgery, marveling at the range of skills of deception. As a scholar, he disentangles the sources that served forgers and the chains of provenance that sometimes led to their exposure. Included also in the book is a comprehensive list of William M. Voelkle’s publications.