with intellectual spears & long winged arrows of thought
Connoisseurship and the Palmer Fakes
Raymond Lister, in his review of publications on Blake and his followers, particularly Samuel Palmer, in the fall 1985 issue of Blake (p. 80), has chosen to repeat his accusation that I said of Keating’s fake Palmers that there was “a considerable case for their being by the artist.” The last time he said something of this kind, in his The Paintings of Samuel Palmer (Cambridge University Press, 1985), he did at least include the vital words, “was reported by The Times as saying. . . .” This time he merely gives a reference to The Times of 16 July 1976, leaving the reader, by his use of quotation marks, to assume that this is a verbatim transcript of my own words. He then goes on to assert that this “all goes to show that enthusiasm, even when combined with academic scholarship, is not always supported by perfect connoisseurship,” a very happy conclusion for an enthusiastic amateur such as himself. What I did say at the time (and I have no precise recall of my exact words) came as part of a defense of one of those fooled by what was a deliberate attempt to deceive, by means of period frames, a backing of old letters, and a false provenance; I am happy to say that the words attributed to me do not reflect my opinion, then or now, of the actual authenticity of the drawings themselves. In any case it is a pity that Raymond Lister has to return on two further occasions in the course of a not very long review to the Keating scandal. This is to give the affair, and the reviewer’s cleverness in not being taken in, far more attention than they deserve.