2020 Art Lecture
‘Famous Forgers’ by Jean Stern

Famous Forgers, lecture by Jean Stern

When one views art, they usually like the image or they don’t.  It takes years for an artist to perfect his/her talents, and it takes a collector years to perfect their skill of evaluating what makes a great painting and what doesn’t.  At this year’s lecture we learned how shrewd imposters created artworks and passed them off as famous artists’ artworks, enticing collectors to buy them.

Jean Stern, Senior Curator University of California Irvine Museum and Institute of California Art, has graciously shared his understanding of fine art with our Maui Plein Air Painting Invitational attendees for the last 15 years.  The lectures are held in the historic Pioneer Inn courtyard and are very popular with standing room only.

You can view the entire lecture by clicking here, as well as at the bottom of the post.

Highlights of the 2020 lecture included:

Mona Lisa is a painting by Leonardo da Vinci that has been replicated or copied many times throughout time.  The painting on the left of Mona Lisa in the first image is a “studio replica” painted in Da Vinci’s studio by his students.  As such it is NOT considered a forgery as there was no intent to deceive.  It is held at the Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain. The original Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci is held at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France.  The image on the right illustrates just how many forgeries there have been.


Vincent Van Gogh was known for painting many self portraits.  The painting on the right was painted in 1869 and is now in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

The image on the left is a forgery by John Myatt, who was an active forger in 1990!



The painting on the right is Venus with a Mirror and was painted by Titian c. 1555. It is thought to be the only copy that was painted entirely by his hand.  Other paintings that are similar, were thought to be by him with the help of his assistants.  The original is held at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

The painting on the left is  an X-ray of the original painting.  It reveals that Titian painted it over a double portrait which he had abandoned. Titian kept the red cloak of one of the figures in the abandoned painting and placed it under Venus’s arm. The use of the cloak from the earlier painting probably played a large part in the composition of the new painting.

Jean shared many tidbits about forgeries.  It is a fascinating lecture and while many scratch their heads in wonderment, and we ask why?  The most likely answer is money.  It serves as a reminder that as collectors, be wise when purchasing original art.  At the Maui Plein Air Painting Invitational you have the opportunity to meet the artist, thus knowing you have an original!

For those of you that were not in attendance – listen, view the slide presentation, and learn from the entire lecture.  It is enlightening and educational.  Others that were in attendance might want to listen again as their is much to comprehend.  The world of Art is NOT boring!