Apprisal of Chinese Jade


Arriving at the right attribution via a correct reading, recognition and authentication of signatures and seals on a Chinese painting is the basic and indispensable tool for connoisseur, collectors and appraisers. An art appraiser checks, and counter-checks signatures and seals to measure and correct our visual analysis of style.

Classification of Attribution (Authenticity)
Three Classes of Genuine: 1) works of quality from the period of attribution with “typical” or “mature” characteristics of the master; 2) works of the period (which may be of varying quality) with characteristics associated with “early” and “later” styles of the master; 3) works of the period of mediocre and poor quality and works with characteristics “untypical” of the master.
• Two Classes of Spurious: 1) Imitation, copies, and forgeries of the attributed master, which maybe contemporary with, close in time to, or somewhat later than his period of activity; 2) Imitations, copies, and forgeries of relatively modern or of recent origin.


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Ignoring the exaggeration similarity of a painting to the works attributed to a master contributes to mistaken authorship. An intensive study of period features and specific influences would highlight the transformation of an early style and incorporated in a later style.

Reading a signature and seals on the painting without verification leads to mistaken attribution. A proper identification of signatures and seals would shed light on the name and a brief biography of the inscriber or painter. An assessment of a painter’s period of activity often coincides with the art historian’s estimation of his style.

Arriving at attribution without consulting literature biography and conducting stylistic analysis is mistaken, because a careful examination of a painting and its historical references, personal elements and content of inscription often position the painting in a more accurate historical moment, contributing to a correct attribution.


Attribution refers to an art professional’s efforts on understanding the artistic personality (genuine vs. spurious, mature vs. youthful) in two terms: “initiative style” vs. “adapted in imitation.” It engages the most rigorous visual biography of the master that we can assemble to whom a painting is attributed.

Asking attribution-related questions before arriving at attribution is critical. “A genuine work of the period by the master?” “What are the characteristics associated with ‘early’ and ‘later” style of the master?” “A genuine work of the period of mediocre and poor quality or works with characteristics typical of the master?” “An imitation, copy or forgery of the attributed master, contemporary with, close in time to, or somewhat later than his period of activity?”


A comparative study of a painting’s calligraphy and painting techniques with genuine works of similar subject matter by the attributed artist contributes to attribution. After much weighing of the hypothetical possibilities and circumstances which may have faced the artist in the process, arriving at the correct attribution is possible.