From fake to fabulous: Redeeming fakes at the Walters Art Museum

Terry Drayman-Weisser


Many objects in American museums have no documented provenance or have incomplete, discontinuous or unverifiable histories. In the past, museums depended on experienced curators and art historians to evaluate the authenticity of such objects. Today, many museums have added the conservator and conservation scientist to their professional teams. Often this has led to the re-evaluation of earlier conclusions regarding the authenticity of objects and to the “redemption” of some objects previously declared spurious. This paper presents several case studies of objects in the Walters Art Museum whose authenticity had been questioned, including a Renaissance terracotta sculpture, a Gothic ivory, a medieval Limoges enameled plaque, and two Renaissance enameled pendant jewels. Conclusions and the methods used to re-evaluate the objects are discussed.

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2007 | Richmond | Volume 14