Does pigment analysis date a painting?

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Is it possible to prove that a painting is authentic with a pigment analysis?


Does a pigment analysis date a painting? Does it determine when it was painted?


So what is the purpose of a pigment analysis?

A pigment analysis determines what type of pigments were used. At different times painters used different pigments and we have chronological tables showing when the different pigments first came into use, and for some of them, when they stopped being used.

So does it mean then that a pigment analysis will date the painting?


Why not?

Because the pigments could have been used much later. For example, you can buy today an entire paint box from around 1900 and therefore you can paint today using the same pigments Claude Monet was using in 1900.

A pigment analysis does NOT date when the pigments were produced or when they were used. It only tells you when this type of pigment first became available.

Here is an example. Imagine that a pigment analysis identifies Prussian Blue in a painting. What does it mean? It means that it was painted after 1708 because this particular pigment was first produced around 1706 and was not made available until 1708.

What it does NOT mean that is was painted in 1708. It could have been painted at any time between 1708 and now.

What the pigment analysis does tell you, is that it was not painted before 1708.

Essentially, a pigment analysis provides cut-off dates and tells you before what date a painting COULD NOT have been painted.

We provide pigment analyses from the taking of paint samples to the final report. If you would like a pigment analysis you may contact us:

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