• gerard van weyenbergh

An art expert: what he should be and do.

The role of the expert

The role of the expert is the search for the truth.

The expert in work of art covers a series of missions, all oriented around the identification, estimation, and recognition of the work. It carries out expert appraisals to estimate the prices of works of art.

He assumes the furniture inventories (furniture, paintings, works of art).

He intervenes during partitions and successions.

He participates in the writing of catalogs of collections.

For insurers and brokers, they carry out all missions within the framework of estimates before insurance or after a disaster. His intervention will be of invaluable assistance after an accident (theft, fire, water damage).


The difficult job requires real ethics to be exercised in the rules of the art. All experts must be recognized by their peers and must provide proof of their actual competence, their years of experience in their specialty, their responsibility, and their independence.

The expert's obligation is "an obligation of means and not of result."

The expert is not obliged to say whether the furniture or object concerned is true or false, but he must bring all his knowledge and research to the examination. The expert must also keep discretion, confidentiality on the works submit to him.

The expert must awaken all his senses to examine what is submitted to him. The report is physical. Touch is necessary. Osmosis is established between the expert and the work of art. He must know how to feel and listen to the object he has in his hands to make it speak, to go beyond his theoretical knowledge, which is necessary, but not sufficient. His sharp, refined eye scrutinizes the work. No detail can escape him.

He must know how to recognize the technique of the construction period. A good expert is passionate about his art.

The best school is that of daily practice.

His studies, his research, his experience allow him to find in his memory the determining elements of the work, which he compares with the piece examined. Curious, he never stops learning and improving to continue his research in archives, publications, libraries, and museums worldwide. The expert cannot trust his first impression; the margin of error is too significant. His certainty must be forged on his knowledge and on a methodical analysis of the matter. The expert must be careful in his judgment and maintain a good dose of humility.

"When in doubt, abstain," says the proverb. The expert will certify the attribution of a work of art only if he can gather all the proofs to guarantee it.

What is an EXPERT?

Any individual, advisor, merchant, broker, or private individual, can claim the title of expert, without having the necessary skills and ethics.

For these reasons, art professionals have grouped into organizations, federations, or unions. The main goal of these organizations is to select professional actors, to guarantee to sellers, buyers, or holders of works of art, that they have to deal with a person whose honesty and knowledge are recognized in their field.

Why use an Authorized EXPERT?

By issuing a certificate of authenticity (document with photograph, description, and measurements), the expert specifies the time when the object was created, its origin, its condition, the possible existence of restorations, or transformations. The expert can specify the replacement value of the object.

It is indeed essential to know or update the replacement value of your works of art. It is not the price at which the objects were purchased, but the price to pay today to acquire equivalent works of art. It is on this amount that insurance will be based in the event of a claim or theft.

Before sharing or selling works of art, it is important to know the authenticity of your objects and their real value. Before acquiring an art object, you must ensure that this object is sold with a certificate produced by a competent expert.

Article: Federation des experts specialises en art