Fake manuscripts to go on display
Arifa Akbar

THE Victoria and Albert Museum has acquired five "medieval" miniatures worth £20,000, despite knowing that they were created by a forger.

The works are by the notorious 19th- century Spanish Forger, whose pieces were of such dazzling quality that some are still believed to hang undetected in galleries around the world. The V&A in London has acknowledged that the illuminations it bought are fakes, but believes that the Spanish Forger’s works are an important addition to its collection, according to The Art Newspaper.

Dr Mark Evans, a V&A curator, said the museum held one of the world’s greatest collections of miniatures cut from manuscripts. "It is important to have examples from the Spanish Forger, for what it tells us about late 19th-century perceptions," he said.

As one of the most successful fakers in art history, the Spanish Forger’s identity remains a mystery — as does his nationality, which was probably not Spanish despite the moniker. He appeared to have created fakes from the 1890s to the 1920s and it is a sign of his success that not one of his works was discovered as a fake until 1930. Since then the number of miniatures and panel paintings attributed to him has steadily grown from 14 to 150.

— By arrangement with The Independent