• gerard van weyenbergh

Disappointed new customer, contacts me for an art authentication

So many customers are spending tons of money to have poor research for authentication. Recently a customer contacted me with what she thought was a Monet painting. She asked a reputable company to look for an authentication about her unsigned Claude Monet painting. After a couple of months and a $ 15,000.00 expense, this reputable company told her that the painting was not by the hand of Claude Monet.

At first, I would say that if a painting is not signed by the artist this could already mean that the painter didn't consider his painting finished and postponed to sign it after he had completed it at his satisfaction.

An artist will not sign an unfinished work, this is an accepted rule in the art world. The reputable company of authenticators should have said to their client that an unsigned painting will have very little if not "no chance" to be recognized as authentic, especially Monet. It isn't easy to convince the Wildenstein Institute that with perfect provenance, a signed Claude Monet painting is authentic. Unsigned and no history makes it impossible to defend the painting in argumentation with the Wildenstein. - Old masters didn't always sign their artwork. It is very rare to find unsigned modern works unless they are sold in auction as an atelier sale. Degas Corot had this type of sale.

The lady contacted me and told me she might have confused Manet and Monet. And this time her painting was a Manet. After some verifications, I realized that if this was effectively a very nice painting showing the traces of age, it could have been painted by many major artists, or even have been a copy from period of an artwork made by a major artist.

I explained to her that it would be very pricey to try to find out who the painter was. If she didn't have an unlimited budget to do this research, it would be better to abandon this project because, without any signature, it will have a 0,1% chance be obtain an authentication.

She contacted me again, but this time with a signed Degas. The painting was authentic and obtained her authentication from Brame and Lorenceau.