Top 10 Fakes List
The numbers in the joke change frequently it seems, but it more or less goes like this: Jean- Baptiste- Camille Corot painted 2,000 canvases in his life, 5,000 of which are in America.
But why are there so many fake Corot's? Well according to ArtNews, "Art historians have noted that Corot sometimes authorized poor artists who imitated him to put his name on their paintings so that they would be easier to sell." And while that was mighty generous of him, it's obviously left the task of separating the fakes from the real ones somewhat more complicated. (For the record, there's absolutely no reason to suspect the Corot image here [Orpheus Leading Eurydice from the Underworld, 1861; Oil on canvas, 44.25" x 54", Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas] is a fake.)
ArtNews asked a panel of experts to list the most faked artists. Here's their top ten:
- Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978)
- Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1796-1875) (see link above)
- Salvador Dali (1904-89)
- Honore Daumier (1808-79)
- Vincent van Gogh (1853-90)
- Kazimir Malevich (1878-1935)
- Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920)
- Frederic Remington (1861-1909)
- Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)
- Maurice Utrillo (1883-1955)
When I saw the headline for this ArtNews editorial, I imagined I'd see some unifying aspect of the work most faked (such as they all used shorter or inconsistent brush strokes or they didn't make their own paints or something else that would make faking them easier), but if there is such a thread running through them all, it escapes me (other than the fact that they produced their work in considerable volume and are all very popular). The most recently departed (Utrillo [see image...again, not a fake as far as I know]) died half a century ago, so distance and fewer living relatives might play into the choices of the forgers, but again, I assume it's more simply a matter of demand. The Remington Museum actually has a web page that helps you determine if your "Remington" is fake or not. And I think this Utrillo site is warning collectors about a fake offered on eBay as well (but my French isn't good enough to say for certain that's what's going on there).
The ArtNews article notes that not all fakes are intentionally fraudulent on the part of the artists. Some artists are simply so enamored with another artist's work that they flatter them in the most sincere way: imitation. The most delightful aspect of the phenomenon of fake artworks, IMO, though is that there are arguably plenty that no one yet realizes are fakes hanging in prestegious collections and museums:
[T]he late Theodore Rousseau, vice director and curator-in-chief of the Metropolitan Museum...wrote: "We should all realize that we can only talk about the bad forgeries, the ones that have been detected; the good ones are still hanging on the walls."