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Title: False images : a social history of art forgery
Author: Maclean, Ewan
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1990
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This thesis considers the history of art forgery in the Western world and the social conditions which produce the practice. The main concentration is on paintings and sculpture, but other areas, including 'antiques', are included where appropriate. The thesis is divided into three parts. The first part outlines the history of art forgery from its origins during the Roman Empire to the present day. The primary concern is with uncovering the development, extent and location of art forgery, rather than a detailed consideration of particular cases. It is shown that art forgery is not a universal practice, but is historically and culturally limited to the hellenistic and Roman world and, until recently, Europe since the Renaissance. The second part of the thesis explains the immediate conditions and circumstances which are necessary before art forgery will occur. These are shown to be the valuing of works of art as coming from a particular historical moment, culture or artist; positive distinction being made in favour of 'original' works over copies; and an adequate system of appropriation (found in collecting). The developments of these conditions are considered in turn. The third and last part takes the analysis a stage further, and looks at the economic and social structures on which the immediate conditions set out in the second part arc based. Here individualisalion and commodificalion, central to ihc structure of capitalism, arc shown to have been influential in changing the position of the artist and nature of art in society. Also of importance, it is argued, was the "crisis of status" which followed the dismantling of feudal hierarchy. This is related, utilising Bourdicu's work on 'distinction', to the need for groups in the more fluid social relations of modern society to distinguish and distance themselves from others, and to define and protect their status. It is shown that art has a central role to play here, and that forgery partly occurs as a consequence of this.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available