Fake Blues:

Exposures of Forgeries and their Aftermaths

Fake Blues:
Exposures of Forgeries and their Aftermaths

Workshop, 18 June 2021

Organisers: Stefan Bauer (Warwick University) and Magnus Ryan (Peterhouse, Cambridge)

This workshop will investigate the unhappy state of mind of those people in history who have been taken in by fakes and forgeries, as well as the afterlives of forged texts. What effect did the exposure and revelation of their gullibility have on the reception of forgeries? The Donation of Constantine, for example, was defended by high-ranking members of the Catholic Church for another century after Lorenzo Valla’s astute criticism. The Reformation lent further urgency to these discussions, when polemicists on both sides of the confessional divide – Catholic and Protestant – often accepted or rejected the results of the humanists on the basis of religious and political expediency.

To date, many historians have focussed their attention on the discussion of forgery in ecclesiastical history. This workshop therefore aims to move beyond this genre, to discuss the study of forgery in other disciplines, such as the history of science, literature and art. It will ask questions such as: what were the similarities and differences in the reception of legends, myths, falsely attributed texts and forged documents? How did invention, translation, and circulation of texts inflect upon one another? And finally, how were more everyday objects such as safe-conducts or letters of recommendation subject to scrutiny as fakes or frauds, and how were those carrying them able to ‘prove’ their identities?

Please book your free ticket here:  

Programme: 18 June 2021

2.00pm:  Welcome and Introduction, Stefan Bauer and Magnus Ryan


Chair:  Stefan Bauer (Warwick)

Alfred Hiatt (Queen Mary):  The Donation of Constantine in 1439

Ovanes Akopyan (Warburg Institute):  “Moscus, father of the Muscovites”:
the history of a Renaissance forgery and its aftermath

Discussion and short break


Chair:  Scott Mandelbrote (Cambridge)

Andreea Badea (Frankfurt am Main): Celebrating the glimpse through the keyhole: Antoine Varillas and the commercialization of the forged sources

Jacqueline Hylkema (Leiden): Forgery in early modern art histories: Karel van Mander and the aftermath of Hendrick Goltzius’ The Circumcision (1594)

Gianamar Giovannetti-Singh (Cambridge): “Pas si candide, M. Voltaire”: the weaponisation of the Ezourvedam in the emergence of theories of human genesis, 1760-1799

Discussion and short break

4.30pm-5pm:  Joanna Urbanek (Brussels): Preview of the exhibition “Fake for real: a history of forgery and falsification“, House of European History, Brussels



Chair:  Bridget Kendall (Cambridge)

Emmett Sullivan (Royal Holloway): The falsification of history through image manipulation

Chris Morris (BBC): Reality check at the BBC


A fake Torah scroll discovered by police in southwest Turkey in November 2017

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