Fake Paintings

Added & Altered Signature
Professor Amos Cassioli

Canada's long lost Gainsborough

Jacob Maris

Edgar Degas

Arthur Lismer


 One of the most common frauds we see would be

added or altered signatures.

John Constable ?



< To the left is a nice little English oil on wooden panel bearing the signature of John Constable.

Remember, big name = big money!

 I am not going into the physics of forensics and all about Ultra Violet light examination but it is a sure fire way of finding out what's been added or deleted from a painting. Such as signatures!

The dark purple areas on the image shows where in-painting has take place over the years. Probably damaged paint flaking off and re painted by a conservator.

On the next image below, can you spot what's been monkey'd around with?


 The whole bottom left of the picture, showing green on this photograph > has been tampered with. The varnish stripped and the original signature removed in order for a new signature to be added by an unscrupulous individual hell bent on defrauding someone of their hard earned money!









Gustave Courbet Fake Signature

A signature applied later that the painting it appears on, fluoresces with UV light.

This 'applied' signature (above) added to a painting, took its potential value to six figures.












Prof. Amos Cassioli  (1838-1891) Italian.

Paolo & Francesca. Inspired by Dante, Canto V. Better known as: 'The Kiss'


 This painting was inherited and purchased before 1920 by a very notable Canadian personage and it surfaced recently in Canada.

For us, it was either Cassioli's second version of a similar piece or a serious fake.

It's in fact it was the the latter, suggesting a major fraud was committed at a very high level and a long time ago.


It clearly had what was believed to be 'reliable' provenance. However, not only is the signature totally inconsistent with Cassioli's but the painting is simply a paler copy of the original and with some major errors in the drawing. Notably, the fresco patterns set into behind the couple on the wall differ considerably from the genuine piece.

The nail in the coffin. A little Research showed that the original is in a museum in Italy!






Is this Canada's long lost Gainsborough!

Thos. Gainsborough (1727-88).

This is an oil painting 35 ½” x 27 ¼” executed on canvas.
It appears to be circa 18C English school, depicting a tree lined gorge with stream & waterfall with figures on a track. This is set with mountainous Italiente background beyond




 The work bears a serious signature -Thos.Gainsborough 1791 in the bottom left quadrant, inferring authorship to the hand of one of the greatest British artists of the period.





The added signature flouresces, it  appears darker than the original background which shows as a pale mush under UV inspection and was likely placed their by an unscrupulous dealer from whom it was purchased, way back at the turn of the century

Magnified x60


  Look carefully at the enlarged Th of Thomas on the left. You can still see the pencil construction marks under the top of the upper cross stroke of the letter 'T'.

Pencil was all through the signature & is the most common 'fraud' we see. Added signatures placed there to increase value. Now what artist would sign his name in pencil first and paint over the top of it afterwards?

After further investigation, we attributed the work to Thomas Barker of Bath - a fine emulator of Gainsborough







JACOB MARIS (1837-1899) Dutch





 This oil painting signed 'J Maris' had the potential to be a very valuable piece indeed.

 The work is reminiscent of the Dutch town of 'Dordrecht' which Maris painted several times in his career.





 However this tower is not that of the Cathedral of Dordrecht. It has a flat top.

 Certainly there are elements of the two paintings (left) in this piece but its style and its signature varies considerably from that of Maris himself.

This is more likely a 'capriccio', or fantasy view, of a Dutch town. Yet it's clearly signed

'J Maris' and the signature was applied when it was first painted, indicating another early fraud.








Edgar Degas 1834-1917 French,



 We have seen many fake works, purportedly by Degas. Mostly drawings in pastel and the easiest to forge.

 We were asked to examine what appeared to be a lovely 19 C. French school drawing, depicting a seated ballerina, clearly in the manner of Edgar Hillaire Degas.

The drawing was an individual study of the balerina at the bottom right of 'Le Foyer de la danse à l’opéra de la rue le Pelletier' held by: Musée d'Orsay, Paris.






 Ours was a similar seated figure to this executed on pale green squared paper as though it was a study for the final oil.

Though the drawing we saw subtly varied.

 We found that the paper on which the piece we examined is executed is not commensurate with that used by Degas, nor are the materials and the inscription that the piece bears, is not in his hand.








< This place is reserved for the image of the drawing we examined






Another Fake Signature - Dated 1933


 Add or change a signature & it almost certainly adds both perceived and actual value to a work of art.

It is one of the most common 'deliberate' frauds we come across.












We cannot show you an image of the whole painting as it is a matter of litigation

However, the case concerned a landscape by Canadian artist Arthur Lismer 1885-1969, a principal figure and artist from what is known as the Group of Seven in Canada. Artists whose works are making very high prices indeed.


Here is a legitimate Lismer work. It's NOT the painting we examined.




A questionable signature above

this one from the actual painting

& a legitimate signature


We questioned the style of the painting first.

Although similar to his work, to us, it did not seem to be one created by Lismer.

Frankly, it wasn't good enough.

 The signature itself didn't bear close scrutiny either. The differences are quite noticeable and we were drawn to the fact that the signature seemed to be incised or scratched into the paint surface.

As the macro enlargement (above) shows, you can see where the edges of the paint are 'ragged' and sharp.
A good indicator that the paint was dry when the letters were gouged into its surface!

Above: Acryllic brush hair in the paint!



We looked harder & closer.


< Microscopic examination of the surface of the painting revealed paint brush fibres, not in the varnish, but embedded in the paint itself, like the one (right.)

Its tubular structure indicated that it was a synthetic, acrylic hair. Evidence that this is a work from the 60's.

It therefore cannot have been painted in 1933 as it was dated!


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