The Spanish Forger, Court scene with figure reading to noblemen and women, oil on panel
The so-called 'Spanish Forger' was probably active in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century in France or Belgium, prolifically producing sophisticated fakes in his own distinctive style for the booming trade in panels and single leaves. His figures all have high cheek bones, small pursed lips and disinterested expressions, commonly incline their heads at approximately 30°, and are set in stock chivalric or court-life scenes. The present panel is an excellent example of these, but unlike the majority of the pieces which have come to light it presents a scene containing numerous figures and a wealth of small detail, and manages to encompass a number of pseudo-medieval nostalgic themes of courtly life, music and performance, and romantic love. These were avidly collected by institutions and private collectors alike, and were exposed as forgeries in the mid-twentieth century (see J. Backhouse "The Spanish Forger", British Museum Quarterly 33, 1968, pp.65-71, and W. Voelkle’s comprehensive catalogue The Spanish Forger, 1978).