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Proceedings Paper

Authentication: science and art at odds?
Author(s): Duane R. Chartier; Fred G. Notehelfer
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Paper Abstract

Contrary to popular belief, there is a very great difference between the detection of forgery versus the authentication of works of art. Sciences is generally very good at producing evidence of falsification but often is equally poor at proving authenticity. The primary reason for these gross differences is that connoisseurship and art history are more strongly involved in the process of authentication than are scientific testing and analysis. There is also a pronounced lack of substantive interaction between art conservation professionals, scientists and art historians. The case of a recently discovered painting by John Constable will be used to illustrate the difficulties and opportunities of a balanced and systematic approach to the process of authentication. There is much more than science involved in such endeavors and this would not surprise anyone who has attempted to introduce works of art through non-traditional channels. Great problems arise when the curatorial community is asked to consider works that do not so easily 'fit' into a neat art historical period or stylistic pigeonhole. Connoisseurs often will only accept the best works of an artist and discount the inevitable products of the artist's evolution -- less accomplished works. Scientific principles and technical evidence can and must be used in order to elevate the practice of authentication.

Paper Details

Date Published: 25 May 1998
PDF: 13 pages
Proc. SPIE 3315, Scientific Detection of Fakery in Art, (25 May 1998); doi: 10.1117/12.308594
Show Author Affiliations
Duane R. Chartier, ConservArt Associates, Inc. (United States)
Fred G. Notehelfer, Univ. of California/Los Angeles (United States)

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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