My mother and the Spanish forger

I can’t quite remember the details, but a while back one of my Facebook friends posted a video dealing with some previously unknown Amazon tribe, or some such, losing their culture, anonymity, and homes to the press of lumbering.  The video was very sad, but viscerally didn’t ring true.  So I made some comment like “sad, if true.”  One of this friend’s friends (what does that make them to me?) fired back angrily that it didn’t matter if it was true, it was still sad.  I’m sorry, but my mother taught me that above all, and despite whatever the political agenda, the truth matters.  In my adult life I have frequently been confronted with the dilemma of whom should I go with, this guy (fill in the name) or my mother.  Experience has taught me, always go with what your mother taught you.

My mother was Sally Wolf (1917-1988).  She was not an opera singer, but she was very wise.

This desire to deceive with image manipulation is not new – witness the Shroud of Turin.  The desire to believe suspends all credulity. But let’s consider the Spanish Forger, who was a late 19th century forger of medieval illuminated manuscript pages.  Scientists used a form of photography where the paintings were overlaid with photographic film so as to measure the rate of radioactive decay of pigments in the pictures.  The greens were found to contain a pigment called “emerald green” that consists of copper arsenite, not known to be used in artists’ paints until 1814.  The story of green pigments and their evolution in the 19th century is itself very interesting, so perhaps another time.  As for the Spanish Forger, he won in a sense.  His forgeries are collected today for his artistry and in 2009 the Victoria and Albert Museum purchased a large collection of them.



This entry was posted in Technical Aspects of Photography.