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I'm going back to the painting, again. Usually I wouldn't bother with this, but there was something that grabbed my attention, something that said "something isn't right". This morning I figured out what I had seen, so here's my list of concerns.
1) The frame has places that appear old, however the gilding is not discolored like an old frame would appear. This means the frame is purposefully degraded or aged to match the subject.
2) The painting isn't dirty and has no age appearance on the surfaces. Paintings accumulate surface contaminates over time. New paintings are clean or have been recently cleaned (expensive). Any worthwhile conservator would have placed his/her credentials on the back.
3) You don't show us the back of the canvas, I'll bet it's also clean beyond belief or purposefully made discolored.
4) The signature is too high up on the painting (modern lack of humility) which denotes it was placed there to be specifically noticed, and yet is not clearly legible. I believe it to be a modern (at an angle) signature placed so that it matches the painterly method of brushwork.
5) Such a portrait, obviously appearing important to someone, either artist or whomever commissioned the work, by subject, was painted quickly, not carefully. The brushwork shows a harsh rendering of the face and again, depicts a more modern technique. If an old artist really cares about his/her work, more time will be given to technique. This painting doesn't show that kind of care.
6) There are obvious marks, discolorations, little seemingly insignificant splatters on the painting that have the same quality as the remainder of the canvas. In other words, the work is all the same. Scratches or other blemishes that occur over a long time are different than the originally painted surface. These stand out to me waving a red flag.
My conclusion is that there are too many (at first glance seemingly insignificant) inappropriate differences that all add up to a FAIRLY WELL CONSTRUCTED FAKE. I say fairly well on purpose. But, you can enjoy the work for what it is, especially if you like it, and that's the most important part of the whole process. If I were to sell this painting in my gallery, I'd absolutely make no claim as to originality or authenticity. I must also admit with embarrassed humility that I have been wrong before, not often though. Just remember that the fake business is a huge and thriving business.
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