Discover the fascinating world of authentication, restoration and art markets. Uncover the importance of a certificate of authenticity and the expertise of art authenticators. Explore the legacy of renowned artists, the significance of the catalogue raisonné and the vital role of art conservation in preserving masterpieces.
What is an Art Authenticator? Decoding the Secrets of Evaluating and Certifying ArtWhether you are the curator of a major museum or an emerging art collector, authenticity is of the utmost importance when growing your collection with new acquisitions. While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, spotting a fake can taint any viewing experience. This is why all collectors, established and new, institutional and individual, rely on the important work of art authenticators to ensure their acquisitions are the real deal.
Certificate of Authenticity: A Trusted Document for Verifying the Legitimacy of Art
Certain famous artists have specific arbiters of authenticity. For Claude Monet, for example, the Wildenstein Institute is the foremost authority when it comes to verifying the authenticity of Monet works. Daniel Wildenstein published the artist's five volume catalogue raisonné and his namesake organization continues to wield the power of authenticating Monet's works today. A certificate of authenticity from the Wildenstein Institute is the gold standard for a Monet work of art.
Art Archives: Unraveling the Mysteries Behind the Origins of Artworks
This work has a rich Salon history. Finding primary documents and archival materials is an important step in the vetting process when collecting 19th-century fine art.
Sometimes works of art are not accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. Even when they are, it is important to continue to research these works and learn more about them. Art historical research helps to put works in context and discover primary sources around their creation. Works of art are recorded through a myriad of sources including patronage contracts, letters and diary entries, line items in an artist’s ledger, submissions to the Salon, exhibition reviews and more.
In addition to traditional libraries and archives, researchers now have access to vast digital archives, advanced imaging techniques and sophisticated analytical tools, enabling them to uncover previously hidden insights. Through rigorous visual analysis, art historians can uncover the underlying meanings, cultural significance and social contexts in works of art.
By piecing together a complex tapestry of supporting primary sources and visual analysis, art historical research not only provides insights into the past but also fosters a deeper appreciation and understanding of these famous artworks in the present.
This rare pastel work was included in Claude Monet’s extensive multi-volume catalogue raisonné, affirming its attribution to the most widely recognized Impressionist painter.
Exploring the Catalogue Raisonné and Its SignificanceA catalogue raisonné is a comprehensive inventory of all known works by a particular artist. It serves as a definitive reference and authoritative source for art historians, collectors and institutions by providing detailed information about each artwork, including its title, dimensions, medium, provenance, exhibition history and current location. Through meticulous research and documentation, a catalogue raisonné aims to establish an artist's oeuvre's authenticity, chronology, and development over time.
Preserving Legacies: The Vital Role of Art Conservation in Museums and Galleries
From Leonardo da Vinci to Keith Haring: The Lasting Importance of Art Authenticators in the Changing Art WorldToday, art authenticators continue to hold lasting importance as guardians of artistic integrity. As forgeries and counterfeit artworks become more sophisticated, their expertise remains crucial in distinguishing genuine pieces from imitations.
By providing reliable authentication, they safeguard the market's credibility and protect collectors and investors from financial losses. Furthermore, art authenticators play a vital role in preserving an artist's legacy by ensuring that their body of work remains accurately documented and recognized throughout history.
Tseng Kwong Chi / Muna Tseng Dance Projects Inc./The Keith Haring Foundation
Keith Haring: A Collector’s Challenge
One of the most prominent American artists and social activists in the 1980s, Keith Haring is known for his iconic and colorful graffiti-inspired artworks. Incredibly prolific and popular during his short life, today, Haring is one of the most forged artists of our time.
His paintings and drawings are among the easiest to fake and hardest to authenticate. Some ways authenticators can differentiate a real Haring from a fake is closely looking at the way the work is drafted – Haring always worked with continuous, unbroken lines. Identifying specific details is the key to authenticating works of art and antiques when other sources are inconclusive.
Da Vinci: A Contested Controversy
Recently, art authenticators came into the spotlight in a major way: a rediscovered masterpiece by Leonardo Da Vinci. The rediscovery of Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi is a remarkable story in the art world. The painting was long believed to be lost until it resurfaced in 2005, when it was purchased at an auction house in the United States for just a few hundred dollars.
Initially, it was thought to be a copy of an original artwork. However, after extensive research and examination by art experts, it was eventually authenticated as an original work by Leonardo da Vinci.
In 2017, Salvator Mundi was sold at auction for a record-breaking $450.3 million, making it the most expensive artwork ever sold. The rediscovery of this masterpiece added a new chapter to the fascinating history of art authentication and conservation.
However, this work remains highly contested in the world of authenticators. Recently, the Salvator Mundi was downgraded from a fully authenticated Leonardo by curators at the Prado museum in Spain. The downgrading comes in the catalogue of the Prado exhibition Leonardo and the Copy of the Mona Lisa where it is listed under “attributed works, workshop or authorised and supervised by Leonardo.”
Although individual specialists have questioned the status of the Salvator Mundi, the Prado decision represents the most critical response from a leading museum since the Christie’s sale. Of the debate, Prado curator Ana Gonzáles Mozo writes “some specialists consider that there was a now lost prototype [of Leonardo’s Salvator Mundi] while others think that the much debated Cook version is the original.”
This thrilling saga surrounding the lost Da Vinci emphasizes the importance of art authenticators and the importance of continuing to investigate works of art. While art authenticators are highly skilled professionals, the art market can still be susceptible to forgeries and disputed attributions. Thus, museums, galleries, auction houses and individual buyers and sellers should continue to exercise due diligence and consult reputable experts to ensure the authenticity and value of the artwork.