Laboratory Testing at Chicago Appraisers Association

Laboratory Testing At Chicago Appraisers Association

There are three methods of authenticating art and antiques: (1) Historical; (2) Stylistic; and (3) Technical analysis.

Historical Research determines if an artist ever painted this subject or if historical records confirm they had opportunity and talent to execute it. (Example: Rembrandt never left Holland; any landscape by him must show Dutch countryside).

Stylistic Research examines the media, the brushstrokes, color combinations and composition to determine if they are similar to the artist’s other known works. (Example: Monet painted in layers, dry paint over dry paint. It was not wet paint all in one sitting like the other Impressionists).

Technical Research examines the paint, the canvas, the medium to determine if it is of the period and consistent with the artist’s techniques. This is done in a laboratory with the use of microscopes, and machines that breakdown the molecular components for computer analysis (Raman and FTIR spectroscopy and polarized light microscopy). We can also precisely date the wood stretcher.

All competent appraisers do historical and stylistic analysis. The degree of their expertise is determined by their experience, available reference, museum contacts and intuition where to “dig” for information. A good appraiser knows how to “read” paper watermarks, provenance, old letters of authentication, labels on the back of pictures and identify restoration.

The Chicago Appraisers Association offers clients technicalresearch to accompany their historical and stylistic analysis. We are the only appraiser in the world that also provides this important third component. We are full service professionals. Here are a few of the extra laboratory tests that we can do upon request:

1. Age of paper and canvas

2. Age of wood (using the new Infrared Spectroscopy)
  We are the only appraiser offering this service.

3. Age of paint and ink

4. Age of charcoal, graphite and chalk.

5. Natural and artificial patinas on bronze, wood, and stone

6. Determine whether a signature was put on at the time of creation or later

Not all works of art warrant this detailed study. Some are without question authentic according to historical and stylistic analysis. Others are just not valuable enough to justify extra research expense.

Most tests cost about $895.00. Occasionally they cost up to $2,500 when elaborate paint and pigment research is required using special spectroscopes and microscopes.

The Chicago Appraisers Association is a modern, full service appraisal company, not just a “one man band” muddling through old records. You can be sure your research is clinically accurate and not just based on some appraisers “gut feeling” about your work.

Before hiring an appraisers ask them exactly what research they intend to do. You’ll be amazed how many of them will begin to stutter, “hum and haw”, try to baffle you with jargon or recite their credentials to cover their lack of experience. We are the only art/antique appraiser to offer scientific laboratory testing.

Strange… But TrueWhen oil paintings are x-rayed by labs such as ours, it is usually predictable what we find under them. Most of the time we find the artist’s detailed drawing of the subject. Occasionally we find another painting by the artist that they painted over. The famed 1873 painting by Renoir “Claude Monet Painting in his Garden at Argenteuil” is the exception. Under the Renoir painting is a Monet. Renoir obviously used a discarded canvas by Monet to do his portrait.
Click to visit our page Honesty Is So Rare.
Click to visit our page Illinois Bar Association Recommendation.
Click to visit our page “21st Century Painting Authentication”.
Click to visit our page “Authenticating Modern Paintings”.
Click to visit our page “Forensic Claim Appraisals”.
Click to visit our page Art Appraisals in the Computer Age.