Jonah and the Whale thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Request to view at the Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C , Case MOD, Shelf B, Box 1

Jonah and the Whale

Manuscript Cutting
ca. 1900 (illuminated), 14th century-15th century (written)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The Spanish Forger was a skillful and prolific forger, who capitalised on the fashion for collecting medieval panel paintings and illuminated manuscripts, which was widespread in Europe and the United States between the mid-nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries. His distinctive repertory of sweet faced figures set against a background of steep hills and castles derived from the study of illustrated books on the Middle Ages. His work was exposed as that of a forger in the 1930s, on the basis of a panel formerly attributed to the fifteenth century Spanish painter Jorge Inglés. This association provided the name of convenience by which he is still known, although it is generally believed that he was active in Paris in the late 19th century and early 20th century.

This is one of a group of five or six miniatures of similar size and borders, painted on the back of cuttings from a text page of an Italian choir book of fifteenth or sixteenth century date. It depicts Jonah and the Whale; a biblical subject taken from the Old Testament, (Jonah 1:17). The Spanish Forger has chosen to depict the moment when Jonah is thrown overboard from the ship he was sailing on in to the stormy sea below. The whale can be seen in the bottom left corner, poised to swallow Jonah as he falls from the ship. The figure types and castellated landscape is reminiscent of Franco-Flemish manuscripts from about 1400. However on closer examination of the dress the Spanish Forger has mixed elements of costume from the fourteenth and fifteenth century. This is particularly the case with the men’s headdresses showing its evolving forms from the late fourteenth century hood, worn by the figure to the left of the mast in the boat. This headdress is shown next to the central figure who wears the early fifteenth century development of the hood, which is worn wrapped around a cap. This anachronistic tendency to combine motifs derived from different schools and periods is a principal reason why the works of the Spanish Forger are readily identifiable as fakes.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Brief Description
Miniature of Jonah cast to the whale painted on a manuscript cutting from a medieval Italian antiphonary, attributed to the 'Spanish Forger', Paris (?), ca. 1900.
Physical Description
Miniature painted ca.1900 in France on a piece of parchment cut from a 14th- or 15th- century Italian antiphonary (a type of choir book).
Dimensions
  • Painting height: 20.5cm
  • Painting width: 14.5cm
Style
Production typeUnique
Credit line
Accepted by HM Government in lieu of Inheritance Tax and allocated to the Victoria and Albert Museum, 2008
Object history
Part of a group of five miniatures sharing the same provenance (E.527-2008 to E.531-2008) and acquired at the same time. All miniatures were painted on cuttings from the same 14th or 15th-century Italian antiphonary.

Collection of Mr. Brown (d. ca.1925), Switzerland; inherited by his wife; bequeathed to Maria Teweles, Twentynine Palms, California; Mr Kerrison Preston, Surrey, England; collection of Jean F. Preston, Princeton (in 1978).

Accepted by HM Government in lieu of Inheritance Tax and allocated to the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2008.

Other miniatures from the same series in other collections: formerly Hartman Galleries, Ltd, Beverly Hills (Rebecca at the well; see The Spanish Forger, 1978, no. L10, fig. 189).
Summary
The Spanish Forger was a skillful and prolific forger, who capitalised on the fashion for collecting medieval panel paintings and illuminated manuscripts, which was widespread in Europe and the United States between the mid-nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries. His distinctive repertory of sweet faced figures set against a background of steep hills and castles derived from the study of illustrated books on the Middle Ages. His work was exposed as that of a forger in the 1930s, on the basis of a panel formerly attributed to the fifteenth century Spanish painter Jorge Inglés. This association provided the name of convenience by which he is still known, although it is generally believed that he was active in Paris in the late 19th century and early 20th century.



This is one of a group of five or six miniatures of similar size and borders, painted on the back of cuttings from a text page of an Italian choir book of fifteenth or sixteenth century date. It depicts Jonah and the Whale; a biblical subject taken from the Old Testament, (Jonah 1:17). The Spanish Forger has chosen to depict the moment when Jonah is thrown overboard from the ship he was sailing on in to the stormy sea below. The whale can be seen in the bottom left corner, poised to swallow Jonah as he falls from the ship. The figure types and castellated landscape is reminiscent of Franco-Flemish manuscripts from about 1400. However on closer examination of the dress the Spanish Forger has mixed elements of costume from the fourteenth and fifteenth century. This is particularly the case with the men’s headdresses showing its evolving forms from the late fourteenth century hood, worn by the figure to the left of the mast in the boat. This headdress is shown next to the central figure who wears the early fifteenth century development of the hood, which is worn wrapped around a cap. This anachronistic tendency to combine motifs derived from different schools and periods is a principal reason why the works of the Spanish Forger are readily identifiable as fakes.
Associated Objects
Bibliographic References
  • Voelkle, W., The Spanish Forger, The Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, 1978.no. L67, fig. 186.
  • Burgio, L., Clark, R.J.H. and Hark, R.R., 'Spectroscopic investigation of modern pigments on purportedly medieval miniatures by the ‘Spanish Forger', in Journal of Raman Spectroscopy, vol 40 (2009).pp. 2031-2036.
Collection
Accession Number
E.527-2008

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record createdJune 27, 2008
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