We are often asked about a work’s authenticity; or more specifically, how one can be sure that the work in question is by the artist?
Here are some of our thoughts on the issue of:
Most people are concerned about a work’s authenticity, and well they should be. There are many works of art, sold every day, that were not created by artist they are purported to be by.
So, how can you tell if the work is right? Unless you are an `expert` on the particular artist or period of art, or actually watched the artist create the work in question, you cannot. The general art buyer needs to rely on the advice of a reputable art dealer or gallery... one that will stand behind every work they sell and will guarantee its authenticity on their invoice.
Do not be fooled by a gallery’s `certificates of authenticity`... these are often not even as good as the paper they are printed on. Make sure that the gallery’s invoice clearly states that they `guarantee the work listed on the invoice to be by the artist they are selling’. Make sure that the artist’s name is clearly spelled out. For example – if you a buying a work by the 19th century French Realist artist Julien Dupré, make sure the invoice states Julien Dupré (1851-1910) and not something like J. Dupré or just Dupré – as there were other artists who signed their paintings with the same last name.
You should also find out if there is a recognized ‘expert’ for the particular artist and make sure that the work in question has been seen and authenticated by that individual.
Remember, that just because a work has a signature on it, does not mean that it is by that artist. We see hundreds of ‘fake’ paintings each year and many of them are sold. Some of these works were actually created in an attempt to fool a buyer and some were just done by other artists in an attempt to study different styles and techniques. You want to make sure that you are not one of the unlucky collectors who buy the wrong painting. This could, and most likely will, be a very costly mistake.
Also, please keep the following in mind when looking at a work of art. If the deal is too good to be true, there is probably something wrong. Works of art have a market value – if someone offers you a painting by a particular artist for $10,000 and his work usually sells for $100,000 – watch out! This is not to say that you cannot find a bargain or hidden treasure, but 99 times out of 100 there is a reason why the painting is so cheap. And let’s face it, if the painting is really worth so much more, why wouldn’t the seller want the extra money?
Like we always say...do your homework. Check out the dealers who are considered experts by their peers and build a relationship with them... a good, and trusting, relationship will go a long way in protecting you and your money.
If you have any questions concerning this topic, please E-mail us and we will be happy to answer them.
Howard L. Rehs
© Rehs Galleries, Inc., New York –April 2001 & December 2008
Updates: When you next visit our site you will notice a change to the button that was labeled ‘Contact Us’. It is now labeled ‘Contact Us/Newsletters’. When you click on the button it will take you to a page that will offer two links – one to the ‘Contact Us’ page and the other to our ‘Newsletter Archive’. We will be posting all our past, and future, newsletters on our site so that you can refresh your memory on any of the topics that we have covered. Our ‘Contact Us’ page has also been updated. We have added a space that will allow you to upload an image to your message – if you have something you want us to look at, just press the browse button and it will load any digital image you have on your computer and E-mail it to us.
Virtual Exhibitions: We have added another small exhibition entitled The Landscapes of Normandy & Brittany by Edouard Leon Cortes that features 5 works done in the Brittany & Normandy areas. We have also added a few additional works to the other Cortes exhibition entitled Pairs - please have another look. Direct links to both exhibitions are provided below:
Landscapes of Normandy & Brittany
Paris – Part I
Art Market Update: Since the “updates section” of our last two newsletters had information relating to the works of Edouard Leon Cortes and Antoine Blanchard we felt it was time to give you our perspective on these artists. We still believe that works by both these artists have the potential for great price appreciation in the near term. With the museum show almost upon us, we believe that many people are going to be exposed to their works and this will create an increased demand for good quality paintings by both artists. If you are considering the purchase of a painting by one of these artists (whether from us or from another gallery), as long as the price is right, now might be the time to act.