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Proceedings Paper

Contributions and limitations of scientific examination and analysis in the detection of forgeries of old masters' paintings
Author(s): Patrick Le Chanu
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Paper Abstract

There is a law in my country, France, which is supposed to deal with forgeries in several fields including the arts. It is called the 'Erreur sur la substance' Error on substance. It means that after an object was sold, if the former owner or buyer can prove that he or she was not aware of the substance of the object, meaning in this particular case its authenticity or lack of authenticity, the sale can be cancelled. We should keep in mind this theme of what makes up the substance of a work of art when we study forgeries. The making of forgeries is probably as old, if not as art itself, at least as old as the art market. Making forgeries is a response to the demand of the market, in close connection with art historical activity. The critics and the art historians inside and outside museums contribute to the fame of artists, which stimulates the art market, the rise inspires the demand for more works, thus the making of copies and of forgeries. Before presenting a few studies made in our laboratory, I would like to make a short survey of the examination and analysis methods we use that particularly help us in the detection of forgeries of old masters paintings. The Research Laboratory of French Museums (LRMF) generally makes a distinction between two main categories of working methods: The first one, Examination, concerns mostly photographic and imaging techniques. The second one, Analysis, is a structural study for which the goal is the identification of the constitutive materials of a work of art and how they were used.

Paper Details

Date Published: 25 May 1998
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 3315, Scientific Detection of Fakery in Art, (25 May 1998); doi: 10.1117/12.308593
Show Author Affiliations
Patrick Le Chanu, Lab. de Recherche des Musees de France (France)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 3315:
Scientific Detection of Fakery in Art
Walter McCrone; Duane R. Chartier; Richard J. Weiss, Editor(s)

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