Much of our evidence for the past comes from paintings and sculpture. But how reliable is this source? Kenneth Clark examines the history of forgeries in art and discusses the motives of the forgers and the reasons for which what now seem to us obvious forgeries were accepted in their time as authentic. He concludes with a discussion of the ethical problems raised by forgeries.

To forge a cheque, even if one has no great respect for the system of private property, is a questionable operation. It destroys trust, which is unethical by any standard. To forge incriminating documents, like the Dreyfus papers or the Casket letters, used to bring Mary Queen of Scots to the scaffold - incidentally, neither of these forgeries would have deceived a child - is definitely wicked.

Here I am going to discuss a far more debate-able aspect of forgery: that is to say, works of art made, for whatever reason, considerably later than the time when they were supposed to have been made.

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