Forgery attributed to the Spanish Forger : Visitation scene, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Miniature attributed to the Spanish Forger

The Spanish Forger (Le Faussaire espagnol) is the name given to an unidentified individual who, in the late 19th to early 20th century, created a large number of forgeries of medieval miniatures.

The Spanish Forger’s works were painted on vellum or parchment leaves of genuine medieval books, using either blank margins or scraping off the original writing. He also “completed” unfinished miniatures or added missing miniatures in medieval choir books. His works fooled many experts and collectors at the time and appear today in the collections of many museums and libraries. Over 200 forgeries have been identified.

As recently as 1930, the Forger was believed to be of Spanish origin. This is due to the fact that one of his first identified forgeries was attributed as a genuine work by Jorge Inglés, a Spanish artist who was active during the 15th century. However, when one considers the provenance of the Forger’s pieces along with many of the medieval collectible miniatures of the period, Paris was the center of purchasing, selling, and forging. A number of his forged miniatures have been identified as copied, with modifications, from those published in several French books dating to the 1870s −1880s. Nevertheless, the name of the artist Christened by J.P. Morgan confidant, Librarian Belle da Costa Greene the monicker sticks.