History of Art MA

Forgeries, Attributions and the Art Market HISTART4063

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Culture and Creative Arts
  • Credits: 40
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Runs Throughout Semesters 1 and 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No

Short Description

This course explores the changes in attitudes to art forgery over time. It traces the development of the modern idea of forgery as a post-Renaissance concept, its prerequisites, and the categories of argument used to establish authenticity today. Case studies of the forging of works are included. The wider implications of the role of the art expert in lawsuits are also highlighted.


10 one hour lectures and 10 one hour seminars each semester as scheduled on MyCampus.

Excluded Courses





Coursework: two 3,000 word essays (15% each)

One 15-minute oral presentation (10%)

Examination - 180 minutes (60%)

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course will provide the opportunity to:

■ Develop an understanding of authenticity and attribution.

■ Examine forgery as a post-Renaissance concept.

■ Develop an understanding of how attitudes towards forgery have shifted over time.

■ Examine how the needs, peculiarities and unwritten rules of the art market are connected to authenticity, the development of forgery culture, and the role of experts in the market.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Explain the need of the art market for originality, authenticity, provenance and origins in art.

■ Explain the consequences of the need for authenticity.

■ Possess a good working knowledge of relevant case studies in forgery of specific works by leading artists and famous archaeologists.

■ Critically analyse fakes as cultural facts, taking into account how they challenge ideas of what art is.

■ Expound an awareness of the effects of lawsuits and threats of lawsuits on authentication practice.


Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.