Apprisal of Antique Chinese Painting


Forgery is not New in China

Forgery is hardly new in the world of Chinese art. Even the best museums have bogus pieces in their collections. Fakes are usually identified as “Reproduction,” “copy,” “in the stroke of” or “after,” reflecting different levels of resemblance to the original.

Forgery in China
Over the history of Chinese art, reproduction of famous Chinese paintings was never associated with forgery, because coping the masterpieces is a legitimate training method for new artist in China. It is hard to separate a true artist from a craftsman. The former devotes himself to the artistic perfection by challenging the success of his predecessors and the later focuses on financial gains by violating the rights of masters.

A forgery refers to the attempt of deceiving the market in the name of others. In the appraisal of Chinese painting, the line between a production, copy, forgery or fake is extremely thin, such as the Zhang Daqian (1899-1983) case. Zhang is a great artist of the 20th century who had forged many paintings in the name of old masters. As a great forger, he took pride in fooling the best-known Chinese connoisseurs and art critics of his time. His works, genuine and fakes, are desirable items for museums and collectors.


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-Determine Authenticity

1. The morphological features of the style of a work. This test helps establish a probable earliest date for the appearance of the morphological features themselves. It includes clarifying the historical relationship of his style to that of contemporaries, prerecession sources and followers, whether it lacks motifs and form relationship or not.

2. The artistic Quality: This test aids in establishing the latest date of creation. It focuses on the execution of a work’s pictorial features, primarily the psychic vitality or energy levels of the brushwork. It keeps the appraiser vigilant for possible discrepancies among individual hands, in a close copy of an original or historically correct design and tends to function on the 3rd level of stylistic definitions, such as “expression.” 3. Basic Physical Properties: The test focuses on the physical aspects of a painting (paper, silk, ink, color, seal paste, seal) via scientific verifications. A correct reading of inscriptions or verification of seals are invaluable in determining a rough date of execution.


-Guinue or Copy

The authentication of a single work attributed to a given artist entails assessing the whole body of his attributed works. It considers traditional attribution, new findings, confirmation, or revision of traditional views and building up the corpus of known works of the master. It studies all previous attributions regardless their credibility or lack of it. It seeks the individual personality at the core of each of these works, particularly paintings post 14th century.


-Authentication Results

Authentication often arrives at two assumptions. First, a perfect identity of (stylistic) characteristics indicates the identity of an original. Second, the divergences between works of all the master’s youth and his maturity, even though it might be considerable, cannot be as great as that between his own and another master’s works.