the man his art On the experts Fakes & Forgeries On the market
from Born to Venice Drawings Past experts Myth and reality on his fakes The market
Arrival to Paris Sculpture Catalogues done in the past Famous forgers trust in the market?
Becoming an artist Painting Actual /Living experts known and undoubted fakes Auctions & Modigliani
on the path All the attributed works Catalogues of actual experts how to detect a fake Galleries & Museums
The artist Exhibitions during his lifetime How should an expertise must be done what to do with forgeries and forgers Famous collectors fromt the past to actual times
The myth Exhibitions until today News on the experts Art Historians, a trustable source? News on the market
Selected bibliography on him News on his art References  and Bibliography on the experts references on fakes & forgeries references & links on the market

"We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable.."

- Alexander Solzhenitsyn

There is no better way to discover a lie than with time, time places us all in our correct position.
The case of the Art Historians is not different, when they are powerful nobody doubts their work, but when they are dead their pupils gain a fame placing all their master's opinions in doubt...

From The Art Newspaper, April 2005:
Do Art Critics Still Matter? 
Today’s frenetic art world pushes criticism to the sidelines—and many critics are not helping matters.
By Marc Spiegler
In the popular imagination, the art critic seems a commanding figure, making and breaking careers at will, but one hard look at today’s contemporary art system reveals this notion to be delusional. When I entered the art world, famous critics had an aura of power, recalls ArtBasel director Samuel Keller. Now they’re more like philosophers—respected, but not as powerful as collectors, dealers or curators. Nobody fears critics any more, which is a real danger sign for the profession.
At one fundamental level—money—critics are scarcely valued either. Even the swankiest art publications, such as Art Forum, Frieze and Art in America pay only $100 to $150 per freelance review...

External Link >>

Here is a little list of the most significant names in art history, of course not all of them, but quite a few of the renowned names throughout History:
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Giorgio Vasari

The first great art historian
(1511-1574)

Italian painter, architect, and writer. Vasari's Vite de' più eccellenti architetti, pittori, et scultori Italiani (1550-68) is perhaps the most important book on the history of art that reached its zenith in classical times, with the Greeks and Romans, then it died out.
For a thousand years there wasn't any art.
Skip the Gothic cathedrals and put the re-birth of all art with the Italian Renaissance, in the thirteenth century. Florentine artists like Cimabue and Giotto started the ball rolling.
Then came a second generation of geniuses: Brunelleschi, Donatello, Botticelli, Ghiberti.
The apotheosis came with the last generation (the one just before Vasari’s own): Leonardo, Michelangelo, Rafael. But not in that order: no. The greatest of them all was Michelangelo.
He was supreme. “See his work and you never need to see any other.”

This was the prevailing view of art in Vasari’s HISTORY OF ART.
Venetians or Flemish didn´t even exist. (Gothic, Romanesque, Byzantine, also didn't take place). But it is still around.
Great mistakes:
- Vasari describes the portrait of Mona Lisa as "unfinished."
- Many mistakes in "attributed to..."
- Florentine Art was the only and real art.
- Nature was not interesting, only the human figure.
- Mannerism was not even remembered.
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Dr. Arnold Wilhelm von Bode

1845-1929.

Director General of all Prussian museums and the major influence on art history in the early 20th century

One phrase by him explains the whole person:

"The Kaiser was right: in 1900 a taste for such painters as Cézanne and El Greco was indeed a threat to the security of respectable convention..."


Great mistakes:
- Authenticated a sculptural bust as the work of Leonardo. Repairs brought the forgery to light. Known as the "Flora scandal."
- He made a scandal of the buying of French impressionist works, instead of German ones
(In his opinion germans were superior in quality and artistic value).
- He owned and lost a famous carved skull or mexican origin that turned out to be a fake.

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Max J. Friedländer


1867-1958.


The most consulted "art expert" in Berlin
He did not think of himself as an art historian so much as a connoisseur. He gave priority to a critical reading based on sensitivity rather than on grand artistic and/or aesthetic theories.
He left museums, working as a private expert for German and foreign art dealers, enjoying the protection of Nazi Reichmarshall Hermann Goering (1893-1946) whose art collection he helped advise. 

Friedländer's brand of connoisseurship relied on intuition.

 


Great mistakes:
-  Authenticated half the German/Dutch/Flemish fakes on the market...

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Dr. Abraham Bredius

1855-1946.


He built a considerable portion of his reputation disputing those who disagreed with him.

Director of the Mauritshuis museum, 1889-1909, connoisseur and art collector.
In Florence, he met Wilhelm von Bode, director of the Berlin Museum, who encouraged him to study the paintings of his own country rather than Italian art. In order to familiarize himself with Dutch seventeenth-century painting, he started visiting different collections of paintings all over Europe. He focused on archival research, which would be a hallmark of his scholarship. After a number of articles in the Nederlandse Spectator demonstrating his knowledge, he was appointed assistant director at the Nederlandsch Museum voor Geschiedenis en Kunst in The Hague in 1880.
Bredius, an enthusiastic art collector who traveled widely, purchased thirty works of art for the museum in his tenure placing several of his own paintings on loan as well. Bredius used his personal collection to present paintings and other art objects to various Dutch museums.

Great mistakes:
-Led the authentication of one of the most celebrated forgeries in art history, the painting, Christ at Emmaus as a Vermeer, actually painted by forger Han van Meegeren (1889-1947). 
Bode, Bredius and de Groot were usually owners of the works they published and the corpus of Rembrandt's work is very affected by their interest, they sold a large number of works to public collections and downgraded many master works as being by pupils.

The 3 of them admired the "Man of the Golden Helmet" (presently recognized as not by the master) as his total masterwork.
They even speculated that it was a portrait of Rembrandt's older brother Adriaen...

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Dr. C. Hofstede de Groot

1863 -1930.

Art historian, art collector, expert and connoisseur; specialized in Dutch seventeenth-century painting.
He used his research touring to assemble an impressive personal collection of paintings, drawings, medals and objects d'art. At the request of the U.S. millionaire art collector Peter Widener (1834/6-1915) he went to America.
Together with the director of the Berlin Museum, Wilhelm von Bode, he was the author of eight volumes on Rembrandt's paintings, which appeared between 1897 and 1904 .
Methodologically Hofstede de Groot depended strongly upon stylistic analysis and an intuitive eye to authorize his art work. Horst Gerson, in his memorial to Wolfgang Stechow, asserted that Hofstede de Groot frequently ignored iconography in favor of stylistic judgments

Great mistakes:
- His mistakes in dating Rembrandt as he desired are incredible.
- He made several wrong attributions to Ruisdael.
- Abraham van Calraet (1642-1722) signed AC monogram and de Groot got involved in a public fight with other experts since in his "scientific investigation" they were by Albert Cuyp.

- Bode, Bredius and de Groot were usually owners of the works they published and the corpus of Rembrandt's work is very affected by their interest, they sold a large number of works to public collections and downgraded many master works as being by pupils.

The 3 of them admired the "Man of the Golden Helmet" (presently recognized as not by him) as his total masterwork.
They even speculated that it was a portrait of Rembrandt's older brother Adriaen ...

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Maurice Rheims

1910-2003.


"Second-hand junk dealer in the ephemeral!" /  Renaud Matignon.

He was born into an old Alsatian Jewish family. During a vacation in Savoie, at the age of 14 he negotiated his first deal: he bought from a village priest a sculptured oak pulpit canopy from the 15th century. At the time of his death his luxurious home in Paris had Picassos and Toulouse-Lautrecs hanging on its walls among a vast accumulation of precious art objects that made his home almost a branch of the Louvre.

By 1935 he had become an appraiser and auctioneer. He was very ambitious. The millionaire art collector Nubar Gulbenkian helped him to take the first important steps in his career; in 1941, he was in charge of the dispersal of the great Gentilo de Giuseppe collection. But during the Nazi occupation of France he was overheard expressing contempt for the boche and insulting an SS officer.
He was taken to the sinister transit camp at Drancy, to await transfer to Belsen. His life's work has been estimated at 600,000 blows of the auctioneer's ivory mallet, from the hat Napoleon wore at Wagram to the Planetarium of the Palais de la Découverte, by way of various Rembrandts; and thanks to him the Hôtel Drouot became the leading salesroom of Europe. He directed some legendary sales, like that of King Farouk's possessions, or the will of Louis XIV. But like everyone in the profession, he made one or two big mistakes.

Great mistakes:
- Rheims sold Fragonard's celebrated "libertine" picture, of an ardent young lover bolting the door before seducing a distraught beauty, for only one-tenth of its value, mistaking it for an anonymous work. 
-  He sold to the Louvre for a song a "School of Carache" which was actually Poussin's Olympios and Marsias, an enormous art scandal.
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Sir Ernst Hans Josef Gombrich

1909 – 2001.
The Story of what???

Austrian/British writer on art, the author of The Story of Art (1950), which has been translated into some 20 languages. Originally the work was intended for teenagers, but due to its insights and superb style, it was soon accepted by universities as a textbook as one of the most influential books published in the late 20th-century.
- ‘There really is no such thing as Art. There are only artists.’

- His main work is called "The History of Art", but if you read the axiom that opens the book (see upper line) History of what???

 


Great Mistakes, there are many. but to be indulgent because I studied with his books I will just mention one:

- In his first edition, page 435: Van Gogh died in January 1891 (in reality, July 1890, that was his brother Theo's death date).
and as I had read somewhere, anyone can mistake a date, but mistake it for 18 editions....

Since he never corrected the mistake, how many students failed the test if they didn't use his book to study (if their teachers did so.)
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SO DRAW YOUR OWN CONCLUSION, BUT REMEMBER--- AFTER THE DEATH OF THE EXPERT ALL HIS OPINIONS WILL HAVE A GAP FOR DOUBTS AND BE REVISED BY THE NEW ONES...

More to come...


1- Myths on his fakes......................... click here>>
2- Famous ones................................. click here>>
3- How to do an expertise.................. click here >>