What the back of a painting can tell you
- The relining of a painting. A painting may have been relined for diverse reasons. Often because the painting was damaged they lined another canvas on the back of the artwork. Also the reason to reline a painting could be only to stabilize the painting itself. Often older canvas received a new canvas lined on the back of the original one.
- Not all what is written on the back of an artwork is always true or accurate. Usually pencil added name of an artist is not taken in consideration for the authentication of an artist. Information could have been written by the artist but also by family members, a secretary, friends etc. so not always accurate
- Chalk inscriptions on the back may reveal lots of information.
Sotheby’s has always used yellow chalk on the back of artworks. Christie’s used different marks on the back of artworks.
These chalk marks can deliver a lot information about the former owners, who bought the painting etc and in consequence it is possible through these chalk marks to establish part of the history of an artwork.
- Gallery label. A gallery label will usually mention: -the name of the artist
-the year it was executed -the size -sometimes the year they acquired it or exhibited it. -it will usually have a reference # which when contacting the gallery will tell you a lot if the gallery is still in business of course. Depending on the notoriety of a gallery, the label will be very important to establish the authenticity of a painting.
A gallery label may also mention an exhibition #. Again depending on the notoriety of the gallery this exhibition refers to an exhibition catalog which is of course very important to know.