21st Century Painting Authentication
We pride ourselves on “cutting edge”, 21st century authentication techniques. We allocate 28% of our annual budget to find more exact ways to authenticate paintings previously considered impossible by other appraisers. Fine art appraisal is an art itself.
One technique we experiment with is using high resolution digital images and complex mathematical formulas. This technique evolved from security system technology that analyzed features in a person’s photographs then reduced these to mathematical equations. This is a new valuable tool for antique art appraisals and fine art appraisals.
A person’s unique features are just a series of proportions and angles. Some people have large foreheads and small noses; others large noses and small foreheads. Artists tend to favor one kind of proportion over another. DaVinci always painted women with a perfect 1/3 forehead, 1/3 nose, 1/3 mouth facial proportions. The particular angles favored in a landscape composition are also unique to each artist. The orientation of horizontals, verticals and diagonal lines are subject to statistical analysis. George Seurat painted slow graceful angles in his works, usually between 30-35 degrees. Vincent Van Gogh wanted strong compositions and used sharper angles like 40-50 degrees.
We also analyze tonal variations. Claude Monet’s tone values are quite close together. He used 5, 6, 7 values on a scale of 10. An American Impressionist like Rose, Robinson or even Sargant used a wider range of values like 2 to 9. Our computers reduce a painting to a gray scale, then scientifically plot these tonal value ranges on a graph. If the majority of the values are in the middle scale, it is probably done by a French Impressionist. If they are spread all over the chart, the painting was probably done by an American Impressionist.
One recent development in art authentication is the use of animal and plant DNA. Organic material is in common usage in paint, inks, paper, textiles, and brushes. Residue left behind can be compared to known medium and animal hair brushes used by famous artists. Eventually we will have a profile of art material used by all famed artists. We are actively working with these cutting-edge labs to achieve this important goal.
Presently we are placing color preferences of over 100 artists in our computer. Some artists use a predominant cool palate (blues, greens) while others use warm colors (red, yellows). Monet used a 70-30% ratio of warm to cool colors in his paintings while Renoir was closer to 60-40%. Van Gogh often pushed his color ration to 80-20% particularly with warm colors, while Munch did the same ratios but with cool colors. We hope to add color ratios to our formal authentication painting appraisal reports soon.
If a painting shows a high probability of tone value sequence, angles and proportions to an artist’s known style, then it is most likely authentic. To reduce any artist’s style to a mathematical formula is tremendously valuable in court presentations, IRS donations and insurance claims when the art has been destroyed and all that is left is a photograph. We hope to have all these techniques available in the near future.
We go that extra mile in research other art appraisers don’t. We don’t just provide you with a painting appraisal that reads “it is my considered opinion”. We charge more than other art appraisers because we do more in-depth research. We provide “chapter and verse” why a painting is authentic or not. Either you’re an innovator or an imitator. We explore where no one else has because our clients deserve “cutting edge” authentication techniques. We take pride being painting appraisal and antique art appraisal experts.
If cost is your main concern rather than professionalism and accuracy, one of those little imitator appraisers is for you. If we feel we can do an excellent job and your research is interesting and challenging, we’ll accept you as a client. If we took every commission offered to us, we couldn’t do this ground-breaking quality research. We’re not pompous or arrogant. We would love to talk to collectors, but we’re busy and not for everyone but, we hope we’re right for you.
If you need such comprehensive research,
please call our office (847) 446-8827.