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The virtues of ancient glues

In this article, the author discusses ‘glues’, a significant element of the fabrication and preservation in gilding and cabinetmaking. He first explains the virtues of ancient glues such as rabbit skin glue (which is becoming popular again), fish glue (mainly used for Boulle inlays that do not exist anymore), the ephemeral success of synthetic glues (standard Araldite, neoprene contact glue, vinyl glue) and finishes with the comment that, currently, the best solution is a strong glue made from protein fibres extracted from the bones and nerves of cows. Revue Experts […]

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Gilding techniques

All that glitters is not gold… Gilding is the application of gold to wood, metal, glass or ceramic. Frauds are numerous and a purchaser should be extremely prudent when buying, hence the interest of this article… Revue Experts n°1 – 03/1988 © Revue Experts   Gold has fascinated since the beginning of human kind. Its glitter under sunlight never tarnishes, it is unalterable when exposed to air, resistant to all acids (except aqua regia); it appears to defy both man and time. Its exceptional qualities, allied with its astonishing ductility […]

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Expert assessments of the work of Diego Giacometti

One year younger than Alberto, Diego Giacometti distinguished himself by producing bronze furniture animated by figurines. His work, while in the same movement as that of his brother, is completely independent. From the 1950s, using potter’s clay, plaster or bronze, he gave life to a bestiary marked by poetic naivety, the humour of which, in the poses adopted by the small animals, in no manner neglected the elegance of the forms. Overloaded with work, Diego Giacometti did not keep any written registers, orally managing the numerous orders placed with him […]

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Fakes, a chronic virus in works of art

The author reveals the first results that he has obtained using a scanner to detect fake objects in the art world. Following an examination of painted wooden statues and tree rings (to determine growth), the author discusses new investigative methods: the identification of wood, reconstitutions and silver plating, the direction of metal inserts, observing the progression of xylophage insects and treatments, the study of how furniture is assembled, musical instruments, observing paintings and detecting restorations to vitreous glass. Revue Experts n° 11 – 06/1991 © Revue Experts   Often skilfully […]

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Expert reports on works of art: the dilemma of confidentiality or disclosure

The expert, between a rock and a hard place Expert reports on works of art are often carried out on personal property for the purposes of inheritances, insurance or in relation to fortunes. If private, they are clearly confidential. In civil proceedings, the court expert is bound by proceedings confidentiality, which is even more restrictive in criminal proceedings. Describing these various contexts, Gilles Perrault discusses the delicate position the expert finds himself in, subject to the contradictions and powerlessness imposed by such confidentiality. Article in the Revue Experts n°112, February 2014 […]

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The duties to inform and advise in art

Article in the Revue Experts n°114 of June 2014 On perusing this special edition on the duty to inform, readers will have understood that this obligation that a professional has towards his client, whether an individual, a company or a public entity, differs depending on the profession. It should first be remembered that such obligations are in fact only imposed on professionals: a private individual who sells one of his works of art is not subject to the duty to inform or advise. The obligation to inform appears in French law […]

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Improper conservation, restorations and alterations of furniture

The restoration of furniture as understood today is different to that practised in the previous century and even more different to that of the preceding centuries. Through a brief history, the author retraces the evolution in mentalities, its causes and consequences. La revue Experts n° 56 – 09/2002 © Revue Experts   The restoration of works of art has considerably changed over the second half of the 20th century. In relation to furniture, the subject of discussion in this article, the current rules help both the expert and the court […]

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Chi Mei Culture Foundation, from passion to museum

The largest museum in Asia dedicated to western art is being built in Tainan (in the southern part of the island of Taiwan, the Republic of China). It is to be inaugurated in February 2015 following a colossal, five-year, construction process. Having participated in its creation, not only as a restorer but also as consultant for the painting and sculpture collections, I consider this museum to be well worth a visit. Twenty years of collaboration provides me with an opportunity to go back over the history of the creation of […]

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The examination of works of art using electromagnetic rays

A work of art is assessed, judged and commented on by a person viewing the object, itself dependant on the presence and intensity of light that is comprised of electromagnetic rays. To see what is not visible, like some of the colours in a rainbow, experts apply scientific methods to works of art that enable them to understand the past (preparatory drawings or retouches under the painted layer…) and the present (xylophage insects, the causes of current damage…), methods that include ultraviolet light, UV and IR cameras, x-rays, tomographic cross-sections, […]

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Plaster sculptures: which are worth their weight in gold ?

On 9 February 2011 at Sotheby’s in London, a 75 cm plaster copy of the very famous Eve by August Rodin set the bidding on fire at £260,000 (€308,750). Six weeks later, at an art fair in Maastricht (the European Fine Art Foundation), a famous English art dealer reluctantly agreed to sell it for $2,000,000 (€1,420,000). Asking him what justified such a price, he answered that it was the original plaster from the master artist at the origin of all of the bronzes of this model! As such “it is […]

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Expert reports on modern and contemporary art

Expert modern and contemporary art reports often confront not only contrary opinions from heirs and rights-holders but sometimes even the artists themselves when they are mistaken in their authentication of works presented to them. This article provides a non-exhaustive summary of such difficulties and possible solutions. La Revue Experts No. 60 – 09/2003 © Revue Experts For the neophyte, this dripping appears to be that of the American precursor of the genre, Jackson Pollock, who died in 1956. Unfortunately for the owners of this recently discovered abstract work, its author […]

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The right to reproduce national works of art belonging to French museums

Works of art for which the reproduction rights have fallen into the public domain and that belong to French museums can be freely accessed and lawfully copied. Using a specific example, the author reviews the legal measures and obligations that govern copies since the Law of 4 January 2002 on literary and artistic ownership. Article in La Revue Experts n° 80 – September 2008 © Revue Experts In general, because only part of an expert’s time is spent on court-ordered missions, he must maintain his principal activity in order to remain […]

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The value of certificates authenticating works of art

Not all certificates authenticating works of art have the same value: some can be unquestionably applied and are acknowledged worldwide, others, produced by generalist experts or dealers, art lovers or rights-holders, often require supervision by specialists. As the profession of work of art specialist is not regulated, anyone can call himself an expert and produce certificates. The author highlights the risks involved, which call for significant caution. La Revue Experts No. 53 – 12/2001 © Revue Experts 1. Values 1.1 The value of a work of art The value of […]

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The methods of scientific analysis used to assist expert reports on works of art and counterfeit

With the scientific analysis of works of art becoming more and more sought after, the author, after briefly referring to various specialized laboratories, explains how to find the most competent laboratory best able to analyse a work of art and raises the issue of the reliability of the analyses produced. He then sets out a brief history of scientific examinations and studies the various techniques used, which he summarizes in table form: examinations and analyses of surfaces, examinations and analyses of internal structures, dating methods. He ends his liberally illustrated […]

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The value of stamped furniture

Using three specific examples, the author retraces the history of stamps, including their counterfeits and detection. We also discover the Jasmin stamps, a commode by Bernard van Risen Burgh that is unfortunately in the United States and another Riesener that was able to be brought back from London to Versailles. La revue Experts n° 55 – 06/2002 © Revue Experts   Article 36 of the ‘new’ Community of Joiners and Cabinetmakers Law of 1743, in force only in 1751, provided that “each master cabinetmaker will be required to have his […]

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The detection of fakes in easel paintings

Fakes are becoming increasingly frequent towards the end of this century. The author has found 80% over all areas of art, a percentage that should be “decreased to reflect the national market which, depending on the sector, is approximately 50% because objects that are not contested by experts are not the subject of examination”. To illustrate this introduction, the authors present, by way of example, the detection of a fake Rembrandt, having successively studied the aspect, the frame, cracks, the signature and retouchings. They then examine copying and the science […]

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The valuing of exceptional paintings and works of art

The author decrypts the process of estimating the value of ‘museum-quality’ paintings and works of art, not to be confused with considerably more prevalent standard quality paintings or works of art. Article de la Revue Experts n° 91, Août 2010 © Revue Experts 1. THE VALUE OF A ‘MUSEUM-QUALITY’ WORK OF ART On 20 May 2010, AFP announced that the theft of five masterpiece paintings, discovered that very morning by the security staff at the Paris Museum of Modern Art, was estimated at 500 million Euros. When I was asked, […]

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An unpublished Rodin work?

The force of a belief beyond reasonable doubt in an expert report The author recounts the examination of an unknown and unsigned statuette that took 25 years to complete. His initial “belief beyond reasonable doubt” led him to discover and index an accumulation of clues that confirmed that the statuette could clearly be attributed to Auguste Rodin, circa 1886 Article Revue Experts n°98, October 2011, pages 17 to 19.   A belief beyond reasonable doubt when examining works of art is the result of experience and does not, in itself, […]

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Original sculptures and subsequent copied works

The author analyses the concepts of the originality of a sculpture from technical, stylistic and tax points of view. Since the legal provisions enacted in 1968 and 1981, the production of original copies is restricted in France to eight copies made from the same mould, to which can be added four copies known as “non-commercial” artist’s copies. Prior to that constraint, the production of original editions was unlimited. Gilles Perrault gives us an update on this unique aspect of French sculptures. Article from Revue Experts n° 85, Août 2009 © Revue […]

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Developments in expert examinations of works of art over the past 20 years

The author summarizes the advance in scientific examinations over the past twenty years and their inclusion in expert reports on works of art. Article de la Revue Experts spécial 20 ans, Mars 2008 © Revue Experts   The search for the truth, both historical, stylistic, technical and scientific, by claiming zero risk through the production of irrefutable proof, might, at the beginning of this 3rd millennium, be the definition of the task of the art expert. An apparently easy task, but extremely hazardous when trying to distinguish the hand of […]

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Counterfeits of the works of Diego Giacometti

The author reexamines the famous proceedings that principally related to counterfeits of the works of Diego Giacometti brought in the Besançon Court of Appeal in November 1998 and the still current repercussions of the case. Article de la Revue Experts n° 71, juin 2006 © Revue Experts On 15 July 1985, Diego Giacometti died of a cerebral embolism. Three days before, he had had a success cataract operation performed in Neuilly-sur-Seine that should have enabled him to again appreciate the details that make the difference between what is ordinary, what […]

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Artist and gallery owner: from enthusiasm to conflict

The author, a court expert, relates his experiences in disputes between contemporary artists and gallery owners and provides some solutions. La revue Experts n° 59 – 06/2003 © Revue Experts   The relationship between the artist and gallery owner often begins with love at first sight and ends in court proceedings. The court expert appears only at the moment of divorce to assist the court in valuing the losses and settling the parties’ accounts. He thus encounters the former colt biting the hand that for so long fed him and […]

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Expert reports on works of art in bronze

Bronzes are part of the French people’s ancestral patrimony. Many families own or have inherited items produced at the time of the great popularity for bronzes at the end of the previous century; museums are overflowing with well-known works and there are numerous, high-quality, art books dealing with famous sculptural artists. France has held and continues to hold a leading role in the world through its artists, foundry owners and its market. The transmission of estates, the eagerness of collectors and art amateurs, the quality and number of art galleries […]

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The regulations governing bronze sculptures

Beauty attracts jealousy and greed. Bronzes are a subject of predilection, where it is important to be able to distinguish original works from imitations and unlawfully cast bronzes. Article From Revue Experts n° 16 – 09/1992 © Revue Experts   Numerous cases occupying the headlines recently that involve imitation bronze sculptures has led me to again raise this subject so that colleagues and readers can be sufficiently informed to be able to make their own judgments. Bronze sculptures, sand cast from a mould or using the lost-wax process, are an […]

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