Forgery and Plagiarism

Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics, edited by Ruth Chadwick. 4 vols. San Diego: Academic Press, 1998.

Denis Dutton

FORGERY and PLAGIARISM are both forms of fraud. In committing art forgery I claim my work is by another person. As a plagiarist, I claim another person’s work is my own. In forgery, someone’s name is stolen in order to add value to the wrong work; in plagiarism someone’s work is stolen in order to give credit to the wrong author.



The art world is as much infected as other areas of human enterprise by greed and ambition. Artists and art dealers seek recognition and wealth, and they often deal with art collectors more interested in the investment potential of their acquisitions than in intrinsic aesthetic merit. In this climate of values and desires, it is not surprising that poseurs and frauds will flourish. Works of sculpture and painting are material objects whose sometimes immense monetary value derives generally from two aspects: (1) the aesthetic qualities they embody, and (2) who made them and when. The reputations of artists are built on what history and taste decides is high aesthetic quality; forgery is an attempt to cash in on such established reputations.

Forgery and plagiarism are normally defined in terms of work presented to a buyer or audience with the intention to deceive. Fraudulent intention, either by the artist or by a subsequent owner, is necessary for a work to be a forgery; this distinguishes forgeries from honest copies and merely mistaken attributions. But while unintentional forgery is impossible (I cannot simply out of mistake sign a painting I have just finished with “Rembrandt”), it is possible to unintentionally plagiarize. Without realizing what I am doing, I might remember and carry over into my work elements (verbal, musical, pictorial) I have experienced in works by other people: if my unwitting borrowing is quantitatively sufficient, I can be accused of plagiarism, though I may not be fully aware of the extent of my borrowing. Even self-plagiarism, both intentional and unintentional, is possible. The Vermeer forger Han van Meegeren was once offered money for a prize-winning drawing. Unwilling to part with it, he copied it and sold the second drawing as the original prize winner; as van Meegeren was using his own name and lifting existent artistic content, this would be a rare case where the definitions of forgery and plagiarism both apply. Robert Schumann, when he was on his death bed, heard in his mind a melody which he believed to be new, but which was actually the slow movement of his violin concerto; copying it down, he could be said to be guilty of self-plagiarism, though it was clearly unintentional.

Normally, however, a forger simply paints a work in the style of a famous artist and tries to sell it, often in connivance with a crooked dealer, claiming it is from the hand of the famous artist. Very seldom do forgers try to execute exact copies of existing authentic paintings, as such works are difficult to sell.

Ordinary plagiarism involves the passing off as one’s own the words or ideas of another. Paradigm cases of plagiarism are instances where a writer publishes a text which was originally written by someone else. This type of fraud is unequivocally discoverable if the original is published, though it may be impossible to prove if all original copies of a text are hidden or destroyed. Because the publication of plagiarized work opens it to wide scrutiny, it is, unlike forgery, difficult fraud to accomplish as a public act without detection.

Both forgery and plagiarism must be distinguished from piracy, in which unauthorized copies of a work are made and sold, depriving an original author or manufacturer of profit. A pirate edition of a novel or textbook will credit the author’s name, and will be presumably be word-for-word accurate, but its manufacture and sale keep the author from enjoying rightful royalties. The same can be said of pirate computer programs and manufactured items, such as brand clothing items and wrist-watches.

Forgery in the arts has been an issue since fakes of Greek works started showing up in the art market of ancient Rome. The market value of a work normally falls if it is shown to be a forgery, and museums will relegate to their basements paintings which are shown to be forgeries, despite the fact that they may have delighted generations of museum goers. Is this justifiable? If a work of art remains the same visual object after we know its status as a forgery, why should it be repudiated? Arthur Koestler and Alfred Lessing have both insisted that only confusion and snobbery could underlie the rejection of forgery; it amounts to nothing more than hypocrisy and snobbery. If a viewer cannot tell the difference between two aesthetic objects, so this argument goes, there can be no aesthetic difference between them. As the aesthetic value of art is a function of immediate auditory or visual experience, it therefore can make no aesthetic difference if a work is a forgery. This stance, which has been termed “aesthetic empiricism,” applied to (1) forgery which exactly copies an existing art work, (2) forgery which presents new work in the style of another artist, but is directly attributed to that artist, and can be extended as well to (3) an legitimate copy of an existing work or a new work in another artist’s style which is honestly attributed.

The third category could suggest plagiarism, were the copyist to put his or her own name to the copy. Since plagiarism involves the theft of content of a work, rather than the theft of the author’s name, it is less philosophically interesting, though even more legally ambiguous and complicated. It is also more common than forgery. The history of copyright is a story of the continuing struggle by authors, artists, musicians, and cultural producers in general to protect the contents of their work, as in forgery artists struggle to protect their names. In the realm of copyright, then, it is for courts to determine the point to which borrowing counts as infringement, what can count as independent invention, and what kinds of intellectual production should be subject to protection. In forgery, on the other hand, it is not content that is in question, but simple authorship.

Because the tradition of basic copyright law is more frequently to protect not ideas expressed, but in the particular expression of ideas — i.e., the specific words of a poem or prose passage, or the specific notes of a melody — plagiarism is less infected with theoretical problems than forgery. Plagiarism involves the extension of property rights to the ownership of writing, and its consideration therefore lies more with copyright than does forgery. Since forgery can involve the misapplication of a name to what is quite new — and perhaps independently valid — work, it raises some of the thorniest issues in value theory. Carried to its extreme, the results of perfect plagiary is completely worthless, as the plagiarized work already exists somewhere else in its original, authentic form. But at least in principle, a perfect forgery could be a new and important work of art.    



The most celebrated forger of the twentieth century was the Dutchman Han van Meegeren (1889-1947). As his promising artistic career faltered in the 1920s, he turned to forgery. It was in faking the work of Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) where he achieved his greatest notoriety. Van Meegeren’s pseudo-Vermeer, Christ and the Disciples at Emmaeus, which he finished in 1937, was called by the eminent art historian Abraham Bredius perhaps Vermeer’s greatest masterpiece at its unveiling.

Han van Meegeren
Christ and the Disciples at Emmaus

Van Meegeren went on to forge another half-dozen Vermeers. He was arrested shortly after the war for having sold a Dutch national treasure to the enemy. It turned out that one of his forgeries had ended up in the private collection of Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring. He confessed to the lesser crime of forgery, and in jail painted yet another pseudo-Vermeer to prove that he has indeed produced his claimed painting. Van Meegeren was treated as a hero in the popular press and given a light sentence by the court. However, he died in prison before his release.

Another exemplary modern forger was the British artist Eric Hebborn (1934-1996). While still a student, he went to work for a London picture restorer named George Aczel. Restoration, it developed, meant much more that cleaning and retouching, and soon Hebborn was painting large areas of old works, cleverly extending cracking into newly painted surfaces, and even “improving” old paintings by augmenting them. An insignificant landscape became, with the addition of a balloon in its grey sky, an important (and expensive) painting recording the early history of aviation. As Hebborn wrote, “A cat added to the foreground guaranteed the sale of the dullest landscape....Popular signatures came and unpopular signatures went....Poppies bloomed in dun-colored fields.”

Such “improved” pictures went straight into gold frames and the plush surroundings of a dealer gallery whose sale often netted Aczel a 500% profit. Before long Hebborn realized that there is little need to begin with an old painting: talent and old inks and paper were enough, and talent was something Hebborn demonstrated in abundance. Hebborn began to produce “masterpieces” to take important places in the collections of the British Museum, the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York, the National Gallery in Washington, and innumerable private collections. These were not trifles, but mainly Old Master drawings authenticated by noted art historians, such as Sir Anthony Blunt, and sold through Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and especially the respected London dealer Colnaghi.

Eric Hebborn

By the time his career as forger concluded, Hebborn had produced by his own account approximately 1000 fake drawings, purportedly by such hands as Castiglione, Mantegna, Rubens, Bruegel, Van Dyck, Boucher, Poussin, Ghisi, Tiepolo, and Piranesi. In addition, there was sculpture, a series of “important” Augustus Johns, and works by Corot, Boldini, and even David Hockney. A Renaissance bronze Narcissus was authenticated by Sir John Pope Hennssey, and a “Parri Spinelli” drawing was purchased by Denys Sutton, editor of Apollo, for £14,000.

In 1978, Colnaghi’s realized that they had been sold fakes by Hebborn and a general panic set in, depressing prices for Master Drawings. A curator had noticed that the Pierpont Morgan’s “Cossa” was on paper identical to the National Gallery’s “Sperandio.” These drawings had been obtained from the same source. Doubts multiplied and Hebborn’s reputation was destroyed. His reaction was to vow to flood the Old Master market with yet another 500 drawings, which he claimed to have accomplished between 1978 and 1988. Given the quality and diversity of his known output, there is no reason to doubt this claim. Hebborn’s life ended in Rome where he was murdered in 1996 by persons unknown.

The creation of plausible forgeries is a difficult and demanding procedure. An old painting requires actual old canvas and a knowledge of old paint formulae. Simply painting over an old work is problematic because X-rays will reveal the underpainting. As it is sometimes impossible to remove old paint, which might have fused with the canvas, forgers have left parts of the underpainting and incorporated them into the layout of the forgery. In the forging of drawings, a knowledge of ink formulae is required, along with a supply of suitable paper, usually taken from the end papers of old books. A good forger will be carefully avoid any paints which would be anachronistic. For example, ultramarine and Prussian blue are both nineteenth-century pigments. Hebborn collected old drawing and writing sets for his purposes and van Meegeren used only badger hair brushes, so that not a single modern bristle would ever be found embedded in the paint of his forgeries.

Style, of course, is of the greatest importance. A forger of painting needs to have an adequate grasp of period brush techniques, produce a typical subject matter for a specified target artist. Most forgeries tend to be pastiche works: paintings or drawings which bring together miscellaneous elements from authentic paintings in a way that will allow them to fit comfortably into an accepted body of work. However, it is almost impossible for a modern painter to think himself completely back into the representational conventions of a previous epoch. Even so careful a forger as van Meegeren produced paintings which displayed elements of the style of his own time: for example, the faces in his Christ and the Disciples at Emmaeus are clearly influenced by photography; one of them actually resembles that of Greta Garbo. Hebborn displayed more than van Meegeren an ability to think himself into another artist’s style and effectively to imitate it. Beyond that, many of his fakes are disarming in their life and grace: as basic visual objects, beautiful to look at.

Once a forged painting or drawing has been produced, the forger faces the difficult task of establishing a provenance for the work — a narrative about where the work came from and why it has remained undiscovered until now. This is not so different from what goes on in other fields of fakery: whether one is promoting the newly discovered burial cloth of Jesus, a metal fragment of a flying saucer, or a mermaid preserved in formaldehyde, it is necessary to invent a provenance for the object. Museum certificates, which are themselves easily forged, are common, as are wax seals on the backs of paintings. Many invented provenances have been variations of this story: “An old European family, which has owned this masterpiece for generations, has fallen on hard times, and with tears of regret, has been forced to sell it. They have insisted on the utmost discretion and do not want to be named.” (We may imagine this sales-pitch delivered, perhaps with an upper-class British accent, to an oil millionaire in the plush and soothing surroundings of a metropolitan dealer gallery.)

Because plagiarism involves theft of another’s work, rather than attributiing one’s own work to a famous artist or writer, it tends to be less important to the literary historian. If an unknown writer publishes a plagiarized novel, it will probably be discovered and make little difference in the long run. It is only the career and reputation of an individual that is affected by plagiarism, not our understanding of an important body of work. For example, the Australian writer Helen Darville won a major literary award for her novel, The Hand That Signed the Paper, which, it was revealed in 1995, had sections copied from the work of Thomas Keneally. Despite the notoriety this occasioned, Darville later became a columnist for an Australian newspaper. However, she resigned in 1997 when her column was shown to have reproduced writings taken off the internet. Because it is only the reputation of a relatively unknown writer which was at stake, such an episode could never invite the same excitement as the possibility of someone placing in museums faked paintings by Vermeer or drawings by Piranesi; such forgeries could alter our understanding of figures whose historical importance is already established.

The most common cases of plagiarism are, in fact, entirely private, between students and their teachers. This form of fraud in education has been made easier by the availability from internet sources of essays to fulfill high school and university assignments. One of the results of this has been the increasing tendency of teachers to assign highly specific topics for essays, topics so specialized that they defy finding a source from which to plagiarize. However, the same internet technologies which make available essays for the asking may also enable teachers to detect plagiarism. Internet search engines commonly in use can be employed to determine if an essay has been plagiarized from any submitted before in a university course or available on the internet. All that is required is that university faculty keep in computer memory every student essay ever written for a course; this would enable a search for duplicated material in new essays submitted.



Discussions of forgery sometimes invoke the notion of a “perfect,” indistinguishable fake or copy of a work of art. The philosopher Nelson Goodman has argued, however, that the idea of a so-called perfect fake is deeply problematic. Just because I cannot today tell the difference between an original and an apparently indiscernible copy, it does not follow that I will be unable ever to see a difference between them. Goodman says that though a copy might be indistinguishable from its original to a newsboy, the two works might be easy to tell apart when that newsboy has grown up to become a museum director. For Goodman, the very fact of knowing that a work is a forgery, along with the possibility that one might someday be able to see a difference, makes a justified difference to how the forgery is seen today. Knowledge that a work is forged “assigns the present looking a role as training toward...perceptual discrimination.” Trying to detect subtle qualities that distinguish an original from a fake, we learn to see such differences. This explains why for the serious art lover, there is an enormous gulf between an original art work and an apparently indistinguishable forgery or other copy.

Goodman’s ideas apply both to identical twin copies and to works produced with the intention to include them falsely in an existing body of works. His emphasis on the importance of the educated eye is supported by van Meegeren’s forgeries. Although they looked to many like perfectly acceptable Vermeers in 1930s, such paintings Christ and the Disciples at Emmaeus were by the 1950s far less plausible. Today it seems surprising that many of the van Meegeren forgeries were once thought of as Vermeers.

In fact, the acceptance of the van Meegeren fakes was a gradual process. Once the Emmaeus was included in the body of authentic Vermeers, van Meegeren did not need to work quite as hard with his next effort: it had only to seem plausible, given the new understanding of Vermeer’s output, which was now modified by the inclusion of the Emmaeus. So each new van Meegeren-Vermeer distorted the historical view of Vermeer by adding yet another forgery to the accepted works, and van Meegeren found it increasingly easy to get away with his fraud. His final, flagrant pseudo-Vermeers thus more resembled twentieth-century German expressionist paintings than seventeenth-century paintings by any artist. (Still, it should not be forgotten that there was a minority of experts who had doubts from the beginning: the Dutch agent for the New York dealer Duveen attended the first showing of Emmaeus in 1937 and telegraphed his boss that it was a “rotten fake.”)

The art philosopher Arthur Danto has provided one of the most penetrating responses to aesthetic empiricism. Danto agrees with Goodman that there is an important difference between an original and an indiscernible fake, but he denies that it lies in the possibility of being able in the future to see a difference undetectable at present. Forgery for Danto is a matter of a falsified history of an object, and works of art do not always “wear their histories on their surfaces.” Danto regards art works as constituted by the ideas they embody and express; they are surrounded by an “atmosphere is theory” which makes them what they are. It is therefore impossible that an original work and its perceptually indistinguishable forgery could ever have the same value, even if they were to remain forever indistinguishable: art is less what you see and more what you know.

Jorge Luis Borges’s celebrated story, “Pierre Menard, Author of Don Quixote,” presents an odd thought-experiment to help illustrate Danto’s position. In it, a modern poet produces passages of prose that are word-for-word identical with passages in Cervantes’s seventeenth-century novel. Despite this identity (which is not plagiarism, since Menard acknowledges it), there are important aesthetic differences between the two texts, with the later one “almost infinitely richer,” as described in the story. For instance, in the two texts, history is called “the mother of truth.” When Cervantes writes this, it is a conventional rhetorical gesture of little significance; when Menard writes the same thing, it suggests the pragmatism of William James or the historicism of Marx. The historical context in which a text — or by extension any work of art — is created therefore determines meaning and value.

The justification for demanding authenticity is located by Denis Dutton in the notion of artistic performance. Concepts of achievement and failure are intrinsic to the idea of art as human activity. Undiscovered forgeries excite admiration through a form of fraud: they systematically misrepresent artistic achievement. This is not just a moral question for Dutton, but an aesthetic one as well. Consider the excitement of hearing a brilliant recording of a Liszt étude; the listener’s excitement evaporates as soon as it is learned that the recording has been accelerated electronically. In the field of piano performance what counts as “brilliance” or “beautiful tone” is assessed against a background tradition of normal expectations and conventions of the art form. The point can be applied to other arts and their value terms, such as “inventiveness” or “originality.” It follows from this that a forger’s achievement can never be the same as that of the original artist, even if the forgery is indistinguishable from an original, or seems to fit well in a body of original work.

Michael Wreen has pointed out, however, that this position is unable to distinguish between an original work and a forgery if they are both products of the same historic context — for example, a contemporary Picasso forger who lived in France at the same time as Picasso — since the original artist and the forger face essentially similar technical problems. In fact, it might well be that the forger’s problems will be even more difficult than the original artist’s, because the forger faces the additional difficulty of trying to execute a passable imitation of another artist’s style. Another theorist, Jack W. Meiland, stresses the excessive concern with artistic originality which he thinks infects discussions of forgery. Meiland insists that originality is a “derivative,” rather than primary aesthetic value. For Meiland, originality of the kind that initiates a tradition or genre has value only insofar as later works in that established tradition can lay claim to primary aesthetic value. Like the first telephone or phonograph, original art can command interest as historical curios, but if they continue to retain much aesthetic interest at all, it will be through their achieved formal qualities.



Many cases which might come to be treated as forgery are not clear cut. Suppose a Renaissance noblemen admires a painting owned by a neighboring duke, and instructs his court artist to paint a copy of it. If neither the original nor the copy is signed, they will both pass later scientific tests as belonging to the Renaissance. A later owner of the copy may surreptitiously sign it with the original artist’s, not the copyist's, signature. Thus what began as an honest copy is transformed by a later owner into a forgery. Perhaps the original itself was unsigned; in such a case a later owner may forge on it the signature of the original artist in order to protect the reputation and value of the painting. In such a foggy and confused historical context, it may be impossible ever to distinguish the original from the copy.

Moreover, many paintings, such as those of Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), were workshop products. In this situation, the primary artist may have painted no more than the most important parts of the work, leaving filling in and minor detail to assistants. It has sometimes probably happened that workshop assistants have falsely signed their own work with names of their famous employers. To add to the complexities, Rubens often used as assistants artists of the stature of Van Dyck, Teniers, and Jan Breughel. The tradition of the workshop continues in our time, with Andy Warhol and the contemporary artist Jeff Koons among those who use assistants to produce work in to which they have applied little or no hands-on effort.

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1796-1875) was a popular and prolific artist, whose loose and sketchy style is relatively easy to forge. It has been said only half in jest that of the 3000 or so paintings he produced, about 10,000 are now in the United States alone. Actually, the number of Corot forgeries exceeds even this figure: it has been estimated at more than 100,000 paintings. Corot was a generous man who occasionally signed his own signature to paintings of his students. The body of work claimed for Corot is now so clogged with fakes, some obvious, but others quite subtle and apparently respectable, that it will never be possible precisely to sort out in every case the authentic from the forged paintings. However generous Corot was, he did not match Salvador Dali, who in his old age signed sheets of white paper to be used for prints, either for his own work or anybody else’s.

Finally, a word must be said about the cultural dimensions of forgery and plagiarism. The Western European demand for originality in thought and expression is not universally shared, nor was it even found in its modern degree all through Western history. In the Middle Ages, the copying and memorization of traditional texts was a stronger element in education than it is today, and such purely reproductive thought is still an important element in many non-European cultures. For example, plans have been announced in Osaka, Japan, for a museum of painted reproductions of European masterpiece paintings. Europeans would doubtless consider this a travesty of an art museum, and the very idea does indeed suggest serious cross-cultural divergences in the attitude toward copying. In another example, many North American university faculty members will have encountered situations of trying to make clear to an foreign student, quite possibly Asian, the importance of originality, the use of quotation marks, and of the rewording of source material in the writing of essays. Even students raised in North American culture often have little understanding of the extent to which they must credit ideas and words on which they depend for their own written work. Given the increasing internationalization of all world cultures, it may be surmised that the European demand for originality and crediting of sources will be diluted or compromised by competing cultural ideas as what counts as legitimate borrowing. However, the rise of digitization of information, and with it the spread of copyright protections, it seems more likely that other cultures will come more in line with Europe and North America, rather than the other way around. In other words, the demand for legal protection of intellectual property worldwide will alter norms of individual cultures.



Forgery is a form of fraud, and is therefore as blameworthy as any other fraud which involves the production and sale of misrepresented goods. So much is uncontroversial. What is disputed is the extent to which the moral question ought to allowed to affect the aesthetic response. One of the most useful treatments of this question has been supplied by Francis Sparshott who has written, “In seeking to appreciate a work we rely on its promise of a human significance and loyally entrust ourselves to that promise.” What the art forger “exploits and betrays is just the self-giving on which all human relationship depends.” Sparshott’s analogy has us imagine making passionate love in the dark to another who in the event turns out to be the the wrong person. Anyone who claims that it makes no difference whether a painting one appreciates is forged is rather like the champion of free, indiscriminate sex, or making love to anyone in the dark. Sparshott thinks that authentic aesthetic experience, like sexual experience, “depends on imaginative construction and association, for only an imaginatively funded vision detects and responds to the meaningful structure of a picture or a musical piece. And, because all social and personal bonds are reciprocal but directly known from one end only, all the relationships we know or think we know ourselves to be living in are as fragile and subject to illusion as the art lover’s confidence in the authenticity of a work and the integrity of its artist.”

This suggests that the enjoyment of the arts is in part a transaction between artistic creator and audience, a transaction that needs good-faith and trust. There might, therefore, be mounting confusion in the future over what counts as a fake, given that technologies may enable a proliferation of copies and altered performances. Digital technologies allow not only the easy alteration of news photos and other visual material, they also make it possible to improve a singer’s pitch or increase a pianist’s speed. Such doctoring may come to be considered normal procedure, or it may remain a kind of cheating. If the copying technologies for painting and sculpture can catch up with the digital transformations of sound, which may happen in the next decades, our view of creativity in the visual arts may thereby change.

The existence of greed and profiteering in the art marketplace has prompted some forgers to try to mount a moral justification for their activities. Van Meegeren’s original intention, so he later claimed, for his activities was to avenge himself on critics who had humiliated him. The idea was that he would wait until the Emmaeus had been lauded by critics and experts, and then he would announce, to their cost and embarrassment, that he was the artist. However, there is good reason to doubt that this is something he ever seriously considered. He had produced forgeries before that painting and was making so much money as a forger that he had little incentive to stop simply for revenge’s sake.

Eric Hebborn contrived to justify himself by quoting Ernst Gombrich that since pictures do not assert anything, they cannot be true or false. It follows, Hebborn claims, that his works cannot be false, and he is guilty of no crime. In answer to this, we can agree that a drawing is a drawing. It is the forger’s claim that it is by Tiepolo or Mantegna that is false. Pictures do not lie: it is only the people who make and sell them, such as Hebborn or van Meegeren, who do that. Hebborn’s justification fails.

The situation with regard to historical understanding and plagiarism is different. Since forgery is usually attributed to a historically important figure, forgery distorts and falsifies our understanding of art history. The historical damage of plagiarism, on the other hand, is normally minimal because the plagiarist is stealing contemporary work for his own designs, to help his own reputation. The successful forger, in contrast, affects our view of historically important artists and creators.

For some cynics, the only real damage done by forgers is what they inflict on the bank accounts of rich art investors. However, it is a mistake to see forgery in this way. Art is not just about beautiful things, it is about the visions of the world recorded in centuries past. The illustrated record of those visions can be corrupted by the skill and subterfuge of a contemporary faker. The extent to which this subtly distorts our grasp of our forebears’ understanding of their world remains to be seen. But the skilled handiwork of people like van Meegeren and Hebborn, when it succeeds, will distort our understanding of the history of graphic representation just as surely as a document forger’s skill might alter our understanding the the history of ideas. Forgery is not a victimless crime, even if the forger is successful and “no one knows.” For the real victim is then our general understanding of the history of art and of human vision. As noted earlier, many forgeries are recognized for what they are by later generations. But is a perfect, undetectable forgery is possible? We can never be certain. The perfect forgeries existing among us are unknown, undetected aliens.

University of Canterbury, New Zealand



Aesthetic empiricism The thesis that the artistic value of an art object is grasped in immediate auditory or visual experience.

Forgery An artistic or literary work created and spuriously attributed to another, usually more famous, artist.

Pastiche Artistic or literary work which borrows motifs or stylistic elements making it resemble the defined style or the style of a particular artist.

Piracy The unauthorized use of copyrighted material such that the original right holder is given credit for the work but deprived of profit from its use or sale.

Plagiarism The passing off as one’s own work the work or ideas of another.

Provenance The origin and proof of authenticity, including previous owners or whereabouts, of a work of art.



Arnau, Frank [pseud. for H. Schmitt] (1961). The Art of the Faker. Little Brown, Boston.

Borges, Jorge Luis (1964). “Pierre Menard, Author of Don Quixote,” trans. James E. Irby, in Labyrinths, Donald A. Yates and James E. Irby, eds. New Directions, New York.

Bulley, M.H. (1925). Art and Counterfeit. Methuen, London.

Cebik, L.B. (1995). Nonaesthetic Issues in the Philosophy of Art. Edwin Mellen Press, Lewiston, Maine.

Coremans, P.B. (1949). Van Meegeren’s Faked Vermeers and de Hooghs, trans. A Hardy and C. Hutt. Cassel, London.

Danto, Arthur (1981). The Transfiguration of the Commonplace. Harvard University Press, Cambridge.

Dutton, Denis, ed. (1983). The Forger’s Art: Forgery and the Philosophy of Art. Contains articles by Rudolf Arnheim, Monroe C. Beardsley, Denis Dutton, Nelson Goodman, Alfred Lessing, Joseph Margolis, Jack W. Meiland, Leonard B. Meyer, Mark Sagoff, Francis Sparshott, Hope Werness, and Michael Wreen. University of California Press, Berkeley .

Godley, John (1967). Van Meegeren, Master Forger Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York.

Goodman, Nelson (1976). Languages of Art. Hackett, Indianapolis.

Grafton, Anthony (1990). Forgers and Critics: Creativity and Duplicity in Western Scholarship. Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Hebborn, Eric (1991). Drawn to Trouble. Mainstream Publishing Projects, Edinburgh. Also published under the title Master Faker.

Hoving, Thomas (1996). False Impressions: The Hunt for Big Time Art Fakes. Simon and Schuster, New York.

Jones, Mark, ed. (1990). Fake? The Art of Detection. University of California Press, Berkeley.

Koestler, Arthur (1964). The Act of Creation. Macmillan, New York.

Koobatian, James, compiler (1987). Faking It: An International Bibliography of Art and Literary Forgeries (1949-1986). Special Libraries Association, Washington.

St. Onge, K.M. (1988). The Melacholy Anatomy of Plagiarism. University Press of America, Lanham, Maryland.

Van Bemmelen, J.M. et al., eds. (1962). Aspects of Art Forgery. Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague.

Woodmansee, Martha and Peter Janszi, eds. (1994). The Construction of Authorship: Textual Appropriation in Law and Literature. Duke University Press, Chapel Hill.