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When the painting The Madonna of the Veil was found in 1930, it was hailed as a great work by the 15th-century master Botticelli and sold for $25,000. But, as revealed in the National Gallery’s new exhibition “Close Examination” (running until 12th September), it was soon exposed as a clever forgery. The forger, Umberto Giunti (1886-1970) went to the trouble of drilling “worm holes” in the panel. Forensic analysis reveals the paint in Mary’s robe is Prussian blue, a pigment that wasn’t available before the early 18th century. Yet does the deceit matter, given the result was beautiful—albeit criminal—and had…

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