Umberto Giunti

Umberto Giunti (1886–1970), a Tuscan artist best known as the ‘Fragment Forger.’

This was the nickname given him by the great art historian, Federico Zeri, the first to have identified the painter.

Gianni Mazzoni recently identified this artist as Umberto Giunti.

Giunti, a student and follower of Icilio Federico Joni, was a key player in the surge in forgeries around the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.

This forgery was fueled by soaring demand on the international market, especially the English market, for the golden backgrounds of Italian primitive artists, especially Tuscan ones.

The incredible mastery of these painters landed many of their paintings in prestigious museums around the world. Even Bernard Berenson, the greatest international critic of this style, was fooled by a painting by Joni, which he considered authentic.

One work by Umberto Giunti, a Virgin in Botticelli style, the enchanting “Madonna of the Veil,” was long shown as an original Botticelli in the prestigious Courtauld Gallery in London, having come into the collection as an original in the 1930s. Only through sophisticated modern techniques could we establish its date of execution and attribute it without question to our artist.

The quality, technique, and era of this beautiful painting are consistent with the attribution to Umberto Giunti, but we need only apply the “Morelli technique” to know for sure.

Giovanni Morelli (1816–1891) taught us to identify the artists of paintings by the anatomical themes that each artist tends to keep on repeating. Well, just look at Virgin’s sublime profile in our painting and compare it with the picture of a work published by Federico Zeri and you’ll have no doubts about this painting’s artist.