Notes: Everyone loves a forger except for his customers.
Joni grew up in the slums of Sienna in the late 19th century and somehow discovered a passion and knack for tempura painting. He began forging paintings in the style of the late Middle Ages and he also did book bindings, in the distinctive painted style of the Biccherna of Sienna, which placed elaborately painted wooden board bindings on its library of accounts. Typically, these bindings had a religious scene on one side and text on the other. This is a very nice example of Joni's Biccherna work.
It consists of two tempura paintings on curved wood panels, about 11 by 15 inches, connected with a three-inch strip of leather at the spine. It is dated 1450 but is probably early 20th century, or perhaps late 19th century. The scene depicts St. Martin of Tours about to divide his cloak with his sword to share with a beggar. The other panel displays coats of arms around the central text.
Joni, like most con artists, was very charismatic and even when his forgeries were revealed, he often maintained good relations with his clients. He even went into the legitimate business of painting restoration, working on many of his forgery customers' paintings. Joni even put on an exhibition in 1909 where he displayed his fakes along side original Old Master paintings. In the 1930s, he wrote a memoir, whose title translates into English as, "Memoir of a Painter of Old Canvases." In 2004, a major exhibition of Joni's work was held in Sienna, and today institutions are using scientific methods to study Joni's work.
Edition + Condition: A very nice example, with brass bosses in the corners and remnants of old hinges. The gold tempura is very bright; there is minor chipping to the painting surface.
Publication: Italy: Federico Icilio Joni, (late 19th or early 20th century).
Item No: #361612