Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

King David

  • Object:

    Manuscript cutting

  • Place of origin:

    Paris (probably, illumination)
    Italy (original manuscript, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1900 (illumination)
    15th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Spanish Forger (illuminator)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Body colour with gilt enrichments

  • Credit Line:

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

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C, case MOD, shelf B, box 1

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 King David. The King is shown playing his harp in the foreground surrounded by figures. Four youths carry a box with an arched lid which is protected by a white cloth draped over it. This has been identified by Voelkle as depicting the carrying of the Ark of the Covenant. The costume of the figures and the castellated landscape are reminiscent of Franco-Flemish manuscripts of around 1400. However the costume worn by the two women are from different dates. The headdress of the lady on the right being from the late fourteenth century, while the lady playing the lute wears a mid fifteenth century model. This anachronistic tendency to combine subjects from different sources is a principal reason why the works of the Spanish Forger are readily identifiable as fakes.

Physical description


Place of Origin

Paris (probably, illumination)
Italy (original manuscript, made)


ca. 1900 (illumination)
15th century (made)


Spanish Forger (illuminator)

Materials and Techniques

Body colour with gilt enrichments


Height: 20.5 cm painting, Width: 14.5 cm painting

Descriptive line

'King David', by 'The Spanish Forger', ca. 1900, on a cutting from a choir book, Italy, 15th century.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Voelkle, William. The Spanish Forger, exhibition catalogue, The Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, 1978. ISBN 875980546, catalogue number L.68, p.57 plate 187. The manuscript is titled as "Carrying the Ark of the Covenant". The catalogue entry notes that this is one of a set of five, possibly six manuscripts (catalogue numbers L.66-69 and L.10).
MLA Acceptance in Lieu Report 2007/2008, p.20, notes that the manuscript is titled "Susannah and the Elders".
L. Burgio, R.J.H. Clark and R.R. Hark.“Spectroscopic investigation of modern pigments on purportedly medieval miniatures by the ‘Spanish Forger’”, in Journal of Raman Spectroscopy, vol 40, pp. 2031-2036, 2009.


Parchment; Body colour; Gold metallic pigment




Manuscripts; Manuscript cutting; Fakes & forgeries; Medieval and renaissance; Christianity; Music

Production Type



Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.