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Fakes (these are not copies!)

Not all fakes are done to deceive people. I look at it as a learning process, a way of getting under the skin of an artist in order to understand him, just like an actor preparing for a role.

For the record, by the way, I hate the term ‘fakes’ for what I do because I am not a criminal and never have been, but it’s an unavoidably handy, accessible, yet clumsy shorthand way of describing my paintings in other artist’s styles. I particularly hate being called a copyist, because I DON’T DO COPIES ANY MORE and I’m fed up of being associated with Sunday painters and hobby artists!

PLEASE NOTE: I am both flattered and annoyed that most people who look at the images below assume that they’re ‘just’ direct copies of existing originals; THEY ARE NOT. They are painted using the same materials and techniques as the masters they’re emulating, sure, and they use the same visual ‘language’ in terms of design and style, but they are still not copies. Think about this. Some of my fakes are completely newly invented by me (e.g. the Vermeer, the Canaletto and the Lempicka), and some are based on written descriptions of paintings that have been lost (e.g. the De La Tour and the Chardin) but that are otherwise unknown from any surviving drawings or prints. Another category of fake are paintings that might look familiar because I have borrowed existing themes or subjects that the original artists painted several times (e.g. all the Monets), nevertheless they are still not copies; look at them as variations - or works that the original artists didn't quite get around to doing themselves! (Read the text at the end of this page on the difference between a fake and a copy).

This selection does not represent a complete catalogue of my fakes, sold or unsold. If you are interested in buying a painting or wish to see any that are not shown please contact me.

For the humorous side to my fakes, go to ‘You cannot be serious’

[For ‘Press reviews of fakes’, click here]

Click a picture to see a larger view.

What is the difference between a fake and a copy?

The answer ought to be obvious but because an alarming number of people can’t work it out I had better explain. Fakes (or as I prefer to call them, ‘inventions’) are far more interesting and cleverer than straight copies of existing original paintings because they require imagination. They also require a great deal more technical skill, historical knowledge, and usually a lot more time than a copy, especially if proper research is done as part of the process.

There are many people who paint copies, but there are far fewer who have the imagination to invent paintings in other artist’s styles. Of those people that do paint fakes (that we know about), very few of their fakes are very convincing. Even those forgers who have become well-known, for example Han van Meegeren, Elmyr de Hory, Tom Keating, or Eric Hebborn have all been technically and/or artistically weak in one way or another. They only partially succeeded because of luck and their dealers and buyers ignorance or greed.

By comparison, and if you'll pardon my pride, my skills - particularly with oil painting – are demonstrably better than the above named people’s attempts at creating works of art in other people styles. For example, compare my ‘Vermeer’ to any of the embarrassingly bad fakes created by Han van Meegeren, and judge for yourself. Ok, I might not have the divine spark of genius that Vermeer had, but I feel it is still a bold and beguiling attempt to understand both how and why Vermeer painted as he did. To go back to my analogy about an actor preparing for a role, look at this as a worthy and independently valid ‘performance’. [click here to see ‘A Closer look’ for more information on this painting]

Most people who try to create fake paintings these days will stick to mimicking the easy painters from the past, particularly the more abstract and painterly artists of the late 19th and 20th century, but that’s relatively easy. The real mark of somebody who is technically competent and knowledgeable in making fakes is if they are able to create a convincing painting in much earlier styles, particularly of the 16th and 17th centuries, which is far more difficult.