(LONDON 1934 -ROME 1996)
Eric Hebborn was born in South Kensington, London in 1934. His mother was born in Brighton and his father in Oxford. According to his autobiography, Drawn To Trouble, his mother beat him constantly as a child. At the age of eight, he states that he set fire to his school and was sent to Longmoor reformatory in Harold Wood. Teachers encouraged his painting talent and he became connected to the Maldon Art Club, where he first exhibited at the age of 15. Hebborn attended Chelmsford Art School and Walthamstow Art School before attending the Royal Academy. He flourished at the Academy, winning the Hacker Portrait prize and the Silver Award, and the British Prix de Rome in Engraving, a two-year scholarship to the British School at Rome in 1959. There he became part of the international art scene, establishing acquaintances with many artists and art historians, including Soviet spy Sir Anthony Blunt in 1960, who told Hebborn that a couple of his drawings looked like Poussins. This sowed the seeds of his forgery career.
Hebborn learned about paper, its history and uses in art. It was on some of these blank old pieces of paper that Hebborn made his first forgeries. His first true forgeries were pencil drawings after Augustus John, based on a drawing of a child by Andrea Schiavone . Museums and galleries wittingly or unwittingly collected and resold Hebborn’s expertly forged work. Hebborn claimed he had sold thousands of fake paintings, drawings and sculptures. Contemporary critics did not seem to appreciate his autograph paintings, so Hebborn began to copy the style of old masters such as: Corot, Castiglione, Mantegna, Van Dyck, Poussin, Ghisi , Tiepolo, Rubens, Jan Breughel and Piranesi. Art historians such as Sir John Pope Hennessy declared his paintings to be both authentic and stylistically brilliant and his paintings were sold for tens of thousands of pounds through art auction houses, including Christie’s and Sotheby’s.