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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A Question of Attribution

Giunti, Umberto (1886-1970)
Virgin and Child
Forgery in the manner of Botticelli (Alessandro di Mariano Filipepi)
Tempera on panel (arched top)
Height: painted surface : 78.7 cm ; Width: painted surface : 45.2 cm ; Height: panel : 88.2 cm ; Width: panel : 45.7 cm ; Depth: panel :
Courtauld Institute, London


Deciding what is true and what is false can be difficult. Sorting out the genuine from the phoney is sometimes not easy.

Especially in the world of art. A lot of money may ride on whether a picture is by Botticelli or is simply by a later but less famous artists.

Forensic analysis may only go so far.

Often the question is one of detailed examination (brushstrokes, discovering what the signs may mean in a painting) and forming a judgment fom the facts.

The purpose is to discover the truth. The truth is the only thing that matters.

The process invites comparison with solving a cryptic crossword, cracking a code, solving a who-done-it, and the like.

In From Botticelli to Bletchley Park art critic and writer Robert Cumming draws a parallel between wartime code-making and code-breaking, and attributions in Florentine art.

One question remains unanswered: what is the value of the forged work of art ? Is it totally valueless, or can it be a work of art in its own right ?