New Monet Attribution "A Haystack in the Evening Sun"

The Huffington Post is reporting that a hyperspectral camera with an XRF attachment has identified a painting as a Monet.  The 1891 painting,  A Haystack in the Evening Sun has long been thought to be a possible Monet, but now with technology is is now clearly attributed to Monet. The camera used spectral imaging to analyze the signature and identified 256 different wavelengths in the near-infrared region of the painting, a region not visible to the human eye. The data was then compared to other Monet signatures and deemed authentic.

The short article shows how the advances in technology can contribute to the authentication of works of art.  Keep in mind, a combination of science, provenance and connoisseurship is the best process for authentication.

The Huffington Post reports
You know what they say: Looks like a Monet, feels like a Monet, has Monet's authentic signature in the corner as determined by a hyperspectral camera with an XRF device... Then it probably definitely is a Monet!

Researchers at the University of Jyväskylä in the Department of Mathematical Information Technology have officially confirmed what they've long suspected, that the 1891 work "A Haystack in the Evening Sun" was indeed painted by the bearded Impressionist who painted all those other haystacks -- Claude Monet himself.

To verify the claim, the team set out to unearth, date and authenticate Monet’s signature from the piece, which for decades has remained covered in paint. According to Phys.org, the pastel colored painting, which has been owned by the the Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation since the 1950's, was investigated at the University in the Recenart Research Center for Art, where they used a hyperspectral camera to examine the elemental composition of the work. Said camera captured pictures of 256 different wavelengths in the near-infrared region of the painting, a region not visible to the human eye.

"The camera is principally operating as a scanner, which scans one line at a time," researcher Ilkka Pölönen told ArtDaily. "The optics includes a prism structure which diffuses the light’s wavelength order, a custom-made sensor is used capable of recording infrared radiation. When the camera is moved using the scanner an image of the whole picture can be obtained."

The camera yielded a single table with a number of spectral data. Researchers then applied Monet's signature to the data spectrum separation methods and -- voila!-- a good deal of scientific data later and the painting was attributed to Mr. Monet himself.

"Spectral imaging and its many applications has been a favorite area of research. Two dissertations have already been published on this subject and have dealt with, among other things, medical and environmental science applications," explained Pekka Neittaanmaki, dean of the department of mathematical information technology at Jyvasklya.

Well, we can't exactly say we're surprised, but we hope at least one Monet lover out there sleeps more soundly tonight knowing their haystack conspiracy theory was on track.
Source: Huffington Post 


Basic Condition Reporting Offer

Fellow appraiser Darlene Bialowski sent me a very nice offer from the Southeastern Registrars Association on the new 4th edition release of Basic Condition Reporting. The 148-page book typically sells for $90.00 in hardback and $45.00 in paperback.  We now have a discounted offer, and can purchase the book for $63.00 hardback and $31.50 for the paperback (plus $5.00 shipping). This is less expensive than ordering through Amazon.

To download the order form for the discount, click HERE, or follow the source link below to order online and include discount code 4M15BCRV at check out after you have registered for an account.

Condition is such an important part of an appraisal.  Joseph T. Ruzicka of the IRS just presented at the ISA conference  IRS Expectations and Requirements for Appraisers - Addressing Disclosures on Condition. Given the presentation was about condition and IRS expectations, it is so important to disclose condition information in reports, and this book will certainly help in documenting, using the proper vocabulary and writing style for condition reports. For around $35.00 the price is an excellent value.

Rowman Littlfield report on the new edition
A Handbook, Fourth Edition


A good condition report is an accurate and informative account of an object’s state of preservation at a particular moment in time. Condition reports can have multiple functions such as recording the state of an object prior to an exhibition or loan, after exhibition or loan, to assist in collections planning, or as a tool for the treatment of an object. Most of these functions can be conducted by a registrar, curator, collections manager, or volunteer.

A good condition report fills many critical needs including:

  • Knowing the exact condition of an object before or after a loan
  • Helping staff determine the stability of an object for exhibit or loan
  • Limiting how often an object is handled
  • Informing object handlers of unseen problems
  • Showing the condition of an object over time to determine the rate of deterioration
  • Setting priorities for conservation
  • Assisting the staff in identifying similar objects
  • Aiding in the valuation of an object for insurance purposes

The fourth edition of Basic Condition Reporting: A Handbook proffers a standard vocabulary for all of the individuals in a museum that may be conducting condition reports. In an ideal world, everyone who does a condition report for an item would be trained in the exact same standards, use the same terminology, and use the exact same form, etc. However, the reality is that even if every registrar, collections manager, and curator in your institution does condition reports each report will be slightly different. Then you throw in every intern, volunteer, or student that may assist and you will find a variety of methods and terminologies that appear. This volume provide a baseline that all of these people can work from so that any person who opens the condition report can understand what the problems on a particular piece include.

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 148 • Size: 8 3/4 x 11 1/2
978-1-4422-4770-3 • Hardback • March 2015 • $90.00 • (£57.95)
978-1-4422-4771-0 • Paperback • March 2015 • $45.00 • (£27.95)
978-1-4422-4772-7 • eBook • March 2015 • $44.99 • (£27.95)
Source: Rowman Littlefield 


Christie's Looks for Fine Art Auction Record with Picasso's Women of Algiers

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Christie's is looking to break the $142.4 million auction record set by Francis Bacon's Three Studies of Lucian Freud.  Christie;s will be offering Picasso's 1955 Women of Algiers (Version O) where it will be asking at least $140 million. The sale is planned for May.

The Wall Street Journal reports
Christie’s will try to make auction history this spring when it asks at least $140 million for Pablo Picasso’s 1955 “Women of Algiers (Version O),” the highest price tag ever placed on an artwork headed for auction.

Two years ago, the auction house set an $85 million price tag on a Francis Bacon triptych, “Three Studies of Lucian Freud,” and wound up selling it to casino developer Elaine Wynn for a record $142.4 million.

On May 11, in New York, the auction house will try to top that with the Picasso.

In the auction industry, an artwork’s estimate is often a reasonable starting point for interested bidders to offer even higher sums to win the work.

Christie’s said the seller of the Picasso remains anonymous, but the work last changed hands 18 years ago when the estate of U.S. collectors Victor and Sally Ganz sold it through the auction house to a London dealer for $31.9 million.

The painting is a riot of jewel-tone colors and features a scantily dressed woman whose face evokes Picasso’s former lover, Françoise Gilot.. She is joined by a disconnected tumble of other, smaller nudes who each seem to conjure other modern masterworks. The obvious muse is Eugène Delacroix’s 1834 scene of Algerian women in a fantasy interior. But Picasso also paints one of his nudes descending a staircase, a likely homage to Marcel Duchamp’s iconic painting of a similar subject. Other figures in Picasso’s tableau lounge at ground level like bulky bronzes by Henry Moore.

The overall effect is singularly Picasso, though, and his style and name brand enjoy a global appeal in today’s booming art market—which helps explain Christie’s hefty price tag.

The work comes from a 15-work series, designated by letters of the alphabet, that Picasso painted between late 1954 and early 1955. The entire group originally sold to the Ganz family for $212,500 and most were later resold separately for far more.

Christie’s said it plans to offer the Picasso as part of a group of a few dozen pieces spanning the 20th century that the house deems blue chip. These include works by Claude Monet, Mark Rothko and Martin Kippenberger. They will be offered in a stand-alone evening sale, called “Looking Forward to the Past,” to coincide with New York’s two-week series of major spring auctions in May.
Source: The Wall Street Journal 


Chubb Releases White Paper on "Conservation of the Works of Living Artists"

During the International Society of Appraisers (ISA) conference in Philadelphia, Chubb announced the release of a new white paper for collectors regarding conservation and restoration decision for works of living artists. This white paper is a continuation of the collaboration and partnership between Chubb and ISA to increase collector awareness of fine and decorative art related topics. ISA is a leader within the personal property field by partnering with allied professionals such as Chubb to enrich membership growth, opportunity and appraisal education and awareness.

The white paper is based on the Visual Artists Rights Act and was written by Laura Murphy Doyle, a fine art specialist with Chubb Personal Insurance.

Click HERE to download the white paper.

Chubb reports on the white paper
PHILADELPHIA, March 23, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Recognizing a major generational shift in art collecting from Impressionist and Modern to Post-War and Contemporary works, the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies has published a white paper on "Conservation of the Works of Living Artists." Released today at the annual conference of the International Society of Appraisers, Chubb's white paper advises collectors to involve living artists in restoration decisions.

"Based on the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA) of 1990, living artists should be consulted before any restoration begins on their works," said Laura Murphy Doyle, a fine art specialist at Chubb Personal Insurance who authored the paper. "Failing to do so could prompt an artist to unnecessarily denounce a work, essentially rendering it worthless."

In such a case, Doyle explained that an insured work would be considered a total loss, and an insurer would require that it be destroyed or donated to an organization for conservation research, so that it doesn't resurface on the art market.

"Although insurance may help reimburse the insured for the loss, most collectors would prefer to continue to enjoy owning and displaying the work, not to mention retaining it for potential future appreciation," said Doyle.

According to the white paper, unless artists waived their VARA rights prior to damage, they can elect to:

Perform a restoration themselves or in collaboration with a conservator;
Approve the treatment plan and allow conservators to perform the entire restoration; or
Denounce the work if it has been distorted, mutilated or modified to the extent that they no longer view it as their original piece.
"In the vast majority of cases where an artwork is damaged, the artist is willing to be involved—actively or as consultant—in the conservation," the paper concludes. But in some cases, artists "have disclaimed authorship of a piece due to relatively minor damage."

The paper also notes that since VARA only covers works of visual art, including paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints, and certain still photographs, its application to new media is unclear.  This category of art includes works created using digital technology, computer graphics and animation, video, robotics, 3-D printing and biotechnology. VARA, as is the case with most insurance, also does not apply to artwork incorporating ephemeral materials, such as insects, leaves and other organic matter, that naturally deteriorate over time.

Both new media, based on technologies that rapidly can become obsolete, and ephemeral materials are creating challenges for conservators.  "It becomes more important to involve the artist in such a work's preservation," the paper states.

"Conservation of the Works of Living Artists" is available at:

Doyle is a member of Chubb's Fine Art Practice, which brings together the insurer's worldwide fine art resources in underwriting, loss prevention and claims. The practice's 20 fine art specialists respond to the evolving needs of personal insurance clients with valuable collections. With academic degrees and other training in art, they are able to help clients assess and manage risks to works in homes, offices, galleries, art warehouses and other locations.

Chubb has long been a leading provider of insurance for private collectors of art, antiques, jewelry and other valuable possessions. Chubb's Masterpiece® Valuable Articles policy provides worldwide coverage for fine art and antiques, jewelry, furs, silverware, musical instruments, stamps, coins and other collectibles. The policy includes coverage for breakage, mysterious disappearance and newly acquired items, as well as inflation protection.
Source: Chubb/PR Newswire 


Appraisal Founation Approves New Personal Property Qualification Criteria

After several years of debate and several exposure drafts, the Appraiser Qualifications Board and the Appraisal Foundation have approved the new Personal Property Appraiser Qualification Criteria. The new criteria will take effect on January 1, 2018 and sponsors of the Appraisal Foundation are required to follow and adhere to the criteria.

Dave Bunton, president of the Appraisal Foundation was a speaker at the ISA annual conference in Philadelphia and announced the news during his presentation.

As a the ISA representative to The Appraisal Foundation Advisory Council (TAFAC) I participated in the development of the criteria and also authored the ISA official response and agreement to the new criteria.  Follow the source link below to read the new criteria.

The Appraisal Foundation reports on the new qualificaiton criteria.
Washington, DC — March 24, 2015 — The Appraiser Qualifications Board (AQB) of The Appraisal Foundation today announced the adoption of an updated Personal Property Appraiser Qualification Criteria, which will take effect on January 1, 2018. The updated Criteria outlines recommended minimum education and experience requirements for personal property appraisers. These requirements are mandatory for members of The Appraisal Foundation’s sponsoring organizations that confer personal property designations but are voluntary for all other personal property appraisers.
The AQB decided to update the Criteria based on input it received from personal property appraisers and users of personal property appraisals. In addition, the Board sought extensive feedback from The Appraisal Foundation Advisory Council’s (TAFAC) Personal Property Issues Committee and the Personal Property Resource Panel of the Board of Trustees. Based on this feedback, the AQB adopted several new requirements, including 30 semester hours of college-level education from an accredited college, junior college, community college, or university, as well as a mandatory new 7-Hour Personal Property USPAP Update Course for existing personal property appraisers.

“The updated Personal Property Appraiser Qualification Criteria reflects valuable input from appraisers and client groups, and represents a positive step forward to modernize and harmonize the minimum qualifications for professional personal property appraisers,” said Wayne R. Miller, Chair of the AQB.
Source: The Appraisal Foundation 


ISA Conference Update

ISA Conference Lunch and Learn event
The ISA annual conference is now over, wrapping up this afternoon. I am so pleased to see yet another very successful conference with record breaking attendance and sponsorship. In talking with sponsors, I found that most were very happy with the results and the interaction with ISA members. The program was amazing, and my presentation, Complex Appraisal Assignment Breezer #1 Prototype, a Multi-Dimensional Approach was very well received.

Other observations include another year for ISA conference where we have a large percentage of both new members and first-time attendees. After NYU art librarian Tom McNulty spoke to the general session and mentioned his article on art research published in the 2014 edition of the Journal of Advanced Appraisal Studies, publisher Foundation for Appraisal Education was left with only one copy in inventory. It seems there was a rush to the FAE exhibition table to buy copies of the Journal. This shows me attendees were engaged in the presentations.

We had a meeting with the ISA, AAA and ASA leadership where we hope to use press releases and other platforms to promote properly credentialed and trained appraisers.  I was supposed to make that meeting, but unfortunately, my scheduled was confused and attended another meeting. I was sorry I missed that as the relationship and respect between the three major personal property appraisal groups continues to grow. Although still pending the approval of each organization, ISA, AAA and ASA plan to call the new alliance between the organizations the Circle of Trust. Hopefully, all three boards agree to participate and together promote properly trained and credentialed appraisers.

Perhaps most exciting, ISA announced a partnership with Chubb insurance to provide webinars and videos on appraising personal property, in return, Chubb agents will be developing webinars of interest to ISA members.

Continuing with the past success of rolling out new promotional material for ISA members to use in order to develop leads and attract clients, a short newsletter with two prepared articles and a member branding section was announced.  I assisted in the development of the newsletter, and ISA plans to offer three to four of these mini newsletters per year for out members to mail out.  In keeping with the credentialed appraisal theme, the first newsletter has a short article on the improper use of USPAP completion and updates as a credential.  It also had an article on what individuals should know when donating art.

In the past, ISA has developed for member use new logos, website with member spotlight and editable profile pages, co-branded print advertisements, new brochures, an editable powerpoint presentation on appraising and now the co-branded newsletter.  The promotional toolbox is now well stocked, and continues to grow.

ISA membership is growing, as is the respect and credibility of the organization.  From talking with members, most are very happy and pleased with the direction of ISA.  And, given the number of sponsors, exhibitors and members in attendance, the future potential and importance of  ISA within the profession is secure.

As appraisers, both those connected with organizations and those who are independent, I highly recommend that you visit the ISA website (http://www.isa-appraisers.org ), look at the educational opportunities, our credential levels (which all have stringent standards, most exceed the new AQB educational criteria, and all are obtainable) the marketing opportunities and promotional materials, and the networking ability and think about joining this vital organization.

Back to regular post tomorrow.



ISA Conference Welcome Reception

The weather was not real good in Philadelphia today, but the ISA conference is off to a fast start with a reception for the Journal on Thursday evening, tours of the Barnes and Winterthur today as well as the welcome reception sponsored by Freemans and Eli Wilner.  The reception was held in Freemans main gallery and the crowd was, as usual, large and the networking very active.

As you can see from the image below, the Freeman's gallery was full!

The conference presentations start tomorrow. The mood of members is very positive and all seem very eager to attend the sessions over the next few days.

/click image to enlarge