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10 Famous Fake Antiques and the Suckers Who Bought Them


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The Virgin and Child with an Angel
The forged version of "The Virgin and Child with an Angel." © BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images
The forged version of "The Virgin and Child with an Angel." © BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images

In 2010, the National Gallery in London discovered that an item in their collection, a 15th-century oil painting, was a fake.

"The Virgin and Child with an Angel," considered to be an early work by artist Francesco Francia, was acquired by the gallery in 1924. In 1954, a nearly identical work showed up at an auction in London, raising a few eyebrows about the authenticity of both paintings. When the London painting was confirmed authentic in 1988, the National Gallery took a closer look at the painting in their collection.

The piece was perhaps not the antiquity they thought. In fact, it was more likely from the 19thcentury, not 1490 as previously estimated. Because of modern scientific testing, experts were able to uncover several flaws, including paint pigments that weren't available during the Renaissance and a sketch drawn in graphite pencil (which didn't exist in in the 15th century) beneath the paint layer. The painting was also coated in resin and cracks had been simulated, both of which give the art an aged appearance.


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