Friend or Faux: Paintings

I would like to devote this week’s blog post to putting in a plug for the second in our series of Friend or Faux seminars, which takes place this Saturday at noon. The event is free with admission but reservations are requested. This session will focus on paintings, looking at how experts go about trying to understand the history of an object and the physical aspects of it that relate to its potential intellectual or market value. Our fearless leader will be Dr. Anne Verplanck, whom I can tell you from personal experience is an excellent teacher. I had the pleasure of studying with her when I was a graduate student at Winterthur and I also did an internship with her in Winterthur’s prints department, so I know what I am talking about! She is also no stranger to the Rosenbach and has published on miniaturist John Henry Brown, whose account book we own.

Although when we hear the word “paintings” most people tend to think only of oil on canvas, Anne is an expert on all kinds of “flat art” and so we’ll also be looking at other types of painting, such as watercolor and miniatures. It should be lots of fun!

To get you geared up for Saturday, I thought I’d share some random interesting websites that deal with questions of authenticity and paintings. The website of Don Shelton, a long-time collector of miniatures has a nice section about various types of copies that exist in the world of miniatures and also devotes many posts to talking about items offered for sale in the market that he believes are not what they purport to be (go here, and scroll down, for example). In addition to observation and connoisseurship, chemistry can also be employed in paintings analysis and this article from Discover magazine highlights some techniques that can be used to identify pigments. I’m also fascinated by some attempts to develop computer programs that can help analyze paintings–this article describes a team at Dartmouth which has developed such a program, while this article deals with a Dutch program with a similar aim. And although it’s not actually paintings-related, I thought you might enjoy this brief article by Anne Verplanck on fake Peale’s Museum silhouettes. Hope that’s enough to keep you busy.

One thought on “Friend or Faux: Paintings

  1. A good teacher,Anne Verplanck gave a fine hands-on presentation. We learned to consider copies, the relationship between painting and early photography, original versus copy, possible influence from prints and much more.

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