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  • Writer's pictureVan Weyenbergh Fine Art

Tips for the appraisal of an artwork

Updated: Sep 4, 2019

OLD MASTERS PAINTINGS A signature can do more than simply help to confirm the authorship of a work. Followers of artists were also known to forge the signatures of more established masters, and centuries later signatures were sometimes added by those looking to make a profit


Over the past 1,500 years of Chinese painting and calligraphy, reproducing works — and even the signatures ­— of past masters have been a cornerstone of an artist’s development.


‘When assessing a sculpture I turn it upside down and examine the area that the artist didn’t mean to be seen.

PRINTS AND MULTIPLES From the 15th century, “laid paper” was used in Europe. Made from fine, linen pulp, it is recognisable by its vertical and horizontal lines, made by the wire sieves used to press each sheet.’

MODERN BRITISH ART Increasingly, collectors are sensitive to condition. ‘They want to know as much as possible about a painting’s history and any work undertaken on it,’ the specialist says. ‘This also can help inform any conservation that might be needed in the future.’


‘When inspecting paintings I am curious to see the back of the work, as there could be old labels, stamps, stencils and notes on the reverse of the canvas and its stretcher,’ says Leonie Grainger, Senior Director of Post-War and Contemporary Art at Christie’s. ‘These give important clues regarding the work’s provenance and exhibition history.’

Read the complete article on Christie’s website:

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