Thursday, July 03, 2008

Fake Coptic art in the Brooklyn Museum?


Edna Russmann, a curator at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, has said that about one third of the museum's Coptic art — early Christian Egyptian art — collection is fake, the Independent reports. Although chemical testing on the works has not yet been completed, Russmann said she is fairly certain that 10 to 30 of the pieces are fake and that about half of the remaining objects have likely been recarved or retouched.

Russmann says she began to have doubts about the collection four years ago. According to the Art Newspaper, which first reported the story, Baltimore-based Byzantine specialist Gary Vikan first noted the possibility of fakes in the collection in the early 1970s but never went public with the concern.

The Independent, UK

Although some chemical testing on the works has yet to be completed, Dr Russmann considers that 10 of the 30 examples of Coptic art – Christian imagery in limestone from Egypt dating between the late fourth century and AD641 – held by the museum are phoney. Moreover, about half the other pieces have probably been extensively recarved and retouched.

Part of the purpose of the exhibition will be to alert other US institutions to the possibility that they too have fake pieces in their collections. "There are lot of museums in this country that have maybe two or three or four pieces," she said.

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