At the Musee d'Orsay in Paris, which hold the archives of all the great French Impressionists, we are authorized researchers with a daily allowance of two research hours for an unlimited period, with no end date. We are very lucky to have been given so much time. Many researchers wait for months to be given a small research window of just a few weeks. We enjoy similar benefits in museums and art libraries in most major European, Australian and American cities.
At the Musee d'Orsay and many others, we perform research directly from the artist’s original letters and documents – not just microfilms and books – which can be invaluable evidence of authenticity. Our experts read and speak a combined total of 15 languages. This means that not only do we have unparalleled access to resources, but also that we are not limited by our ability to understand and evaluate the importance of documents in foreign languages.
In the course of an authentication, it is sometimes useful to know more about the artist’s life. Biographical research demands a firm grasp of historical setting and the individual's environment. It often entails tracking down detailed information about an artist's family and friends, dealers, collectors, curators and others with whom the artists had significant interaction. We check and double-check every assertion in published sources against primary evidence – diaries, account books, letters, etc. We also consult unpublished written sources such as disserations or theses.
In addition to reviewing documents belonging to the artist or his associates, we can also review the written historical record for evidence of an artwork’s existence. For example, we can search through old exhibition catalogues, reviews in the press, auction records, private collector records, inventories or the artist’s estate records. Finding a clue among this information is often the final piece of the puzzle, allowing us to confidently confirm authenticity.
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