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CURRENT COLUMN

The Case of the Olympic Posters
The Case of the Olympic Posters

The Case of the Solitary Surrealist
The Case of the Solitary Surrealist

The Case of the Recalcitrant Rembrandt
The Case of the Recalcitrant Rembrandt

The Case of the Ambiguity of Authenticity
The Case of the Ambiguity of Authenticity

The Case of Margaret Keane’s Big-Eyed Boys
The Case of Margaret Keane’s Big-Eyed Boys

The Case of Clarence’s Château-Gaillard
The Case of Clarence’s Château-Gaillard

The Case of the M.S. Nov 1910
The Case of the M.S. Nov 1910

The Case of Cruise Ship Art: Part 2
The Case of the Archangel Michael Defeating Satan

The Case of Cruise Ship Art: Part 2
The Case of Cruise Ship Art: Part 2

The Case of Mary Most Holy Mother of Light
The Case of Mary Most Holy Mother of Light

The Case of Leni and the Nuba
The Case of Leni and the Nuba

The Case of the Seductive Souvenir
The Case of the Seductive Souvenir

The Case of the Irish Surrealist
The Case of the Irish Surrealist

The Case of the Developing Dalí
The Case of the Developing Dalí

The Case of Nano-D Technology
The Case of Nano-D Technology

The Case of Dabatable Donations
The Case of Debatable Donations

Edgar Heap of Birds
The Case of the Long-tailed Monkey

Edgar Heap of Birds
The Case of Edgar Heap of Birds

Silent Song
The Case of the Silent Song

Aficionado
The Case of Alex and the Art Aficionado

Portrait
The Case of the Privacy of the Publicity Photo

Potter
The Case of the Potter's Portraits

The Case of the Coy Cornelius Krieghoff

The Case of the Political Portraitist

The Case of the Reconsidered Revolution

The Case of the Anabiotic Abbey

The Case of the Phoney Picasso

The Case of Setsuko Piroche

The Case of being on the Forest Edge with Vern Simpson

The Case of Being at the End of the Storm with Loren Adams

The Case of Being: Under the Table with Thomas

The Case of Wyland's Whales on Walls

The Case of A.Y. Jackson's Smart River (Alaska)

The Case of Red Fish with Blue Breasts

The Case of Looe Poole

The Case of Camaldoli

The Case of MS

The Case of the Misattributed Emily Carrs

The Case of the Doubtful Dürer

The Case of the Purloined Picasso

The Case of the Defrocked Duchess of Devonshire

The Case of the First Wife

The Case of the Dodford Priory

The Case of the Unknown Actor

Art Services & Materials


Confessions Back

Practical Art History
(or Confessions of a Fine Art Appraiser)

Marc Chagall, La Révolution (1937), oil on canvas

Marc Chagall, La Révolution (1937), oil on canvas

by Jim Finlay
Finlay Fine Art & Wealth Management
jim_finlay@telus.net

Chapter 20. The Case of the Reconsidered Revolution

As a fine art appraiser, I am on occasion obliged to inform clients of that which they might not wish to hear. Frequently such issues revolve around questions of authenticity or of misunderstandings (either contrived or accidental) with regard to the actual identity of an artwork.

Purchase decisions, as well as value and investment decisions, are often made by a prospective client only with information supplied by a gallery owner or gallery staff. Clients assume that what they believe they are purchasing, and what they are actually buying, is indeed the same thing. Unfortunately this is not always the case, often through no deliberate act of deception on the part of the gallery or through the purchaser's inexperience.

Such was the case recently when doing an appraisal for replacement cost for insurance purposes. I was obliged to inform a client that a numbered lithograph entitled La Révolution, which bore a signature in pencil by Marc Chagall was not the original Chagall lithograph her husband had understood he was buying for my client's anniversary gift. Needless to say, upon hearing this my client became quite upset.

La Révolution after Marc Chagall

La Révolution after Marc Chagall, lithograph

During my inspection of the artwork, I confirmed that it indeed was a multi-coloured lithograph, signed in the plate lower right, “Marc Chagall,” and also signed in pencil lower right, outside the image, “Marc Chagall.” It was numbered and editioned 5/150 lower left, outside the image, in pencil. Printed in the plate in capital letters lower left, were the words, “D'APRES MARC CHAGALL-REVOLUTION (1933-1950) CHARLES SORLIER GRAV.”

This indicated that the artwork was a lithograph made by Charles Sorlier under the direction of, and after an image by, Marc Chagall. It is for this reason that the words, which translate as "after Marc Chagall", had been printed in the lower left hand corner of the image so as to distinguish this lithograph from an original Marc Chagall lithograph.

The word "after" (d'aprés) indicates that this image is from, copied or interpreted (in this case by Charles Sorlier) from another image by Marc Chagall. The resultant “new” image is not identical to the image on which it is based due to technical processes inherent in the lithographic reproduction process. This lithograph is catalogued under lithographs engraved by Charles Sorlier under Marc Chagall's direction and is so identified as “CS9 Revolution.” The image is based on a 1937 oil on canvas painting by Marc Chagall entitled La Révolution.

The gallery invoice listed the work as an original Marc Chagall and it was priced accordingly. Did the gallery intentionally mislead the customer? Did the gallery truly believe that they were selling an original lithograph by Marc Chagall? Should the buyer be entitled to all or part of his money back? Caveat emptor.

Next: The Case of the Political Portraitist

 Mon, Jun 7, 2010