Ronald D. Spencer, editor
The Expert versus the Object: Judging Fakes & False Attributions in the Visual Arts.
Oxford University Press,
240 pages, $35

What a difference a century can make! In 1897, Bernard Berenson concluded the preface to his Italian Painters of the Renaissance with the words: “No artifact is a work of art if it does not help to humanize us. Without art, visual, verbal, musical, our world would have remained a jungle.” It is the voice of the Edwardian dilettante and gentleman-aesthete, very much at the center of his art-world. The Expert versus the Object is the title Ronald D. Spencer gives to a new collection of essays and interviews that focus on (according to the subtitle) “fakes and false attributions in the visual arts,” and the eventual legal ramifications thereof. Mr. Spencer, a respected attorney, and the various other contributors to the...


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