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Fine Art/Chagall Water Color


QUESTION: Hello Dolly,

I have purchased a painting attributed to Marc Chagall.It was from the estate of an Australian art collector who had gathered some fine paintings over a thirty year period.  The piece was described as "MARC CHAGALL untitled original watercolor, ink & crayon, bears a signature in ink, 23x31cms. "  I would appreciate your opinion.

ANSWER: Dear Susan,

Though crayon is a more unusual medium for Chagall, the painting has elements of his style. His childhood on a farm in Russia shows up in his frequent addition of farm animals to his images. I did not see a signature on the photo.

In regards to original work by an artist the stature of Chagall, (who is also one of the top 3 copied and forged artists), the value of the work is in its impeccable provenance. If a painting does not have documentation, it could take years and a lot of money to get the piece authenticated.

You mention it came from the estate of an Australian art collector who acquired the painting during a 30 year time period. If the collector indeed had a fine collection, there must be records of purchase. Collectors keep records on the art they buy because they know how valuable the information is for resale or insurance purposes. You will need to have the information through a sales receipt or auction catalog where the work was purchased by the previous owner. If it was a private purchase, the information will need to include all previous owners and how it was acquired.

If you purchased the painting because you liked the image and you do not plan on reselling as an original Chagall, then documentation is not necessary. The only concern is to not overpay for art that cannot be authenticated.

I hope this information is helpful.

Kind regards,

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for such a comprehensive response.  Hearing that he is such a forged artist does make me nervous.  I have attached a photo of the signature.  I will go back to the auction house and try to get more information on the provenance.  You have taught me a valuable lesson, hopefully not a costly one!



Dear Susan,

The signature is consistent with signatures on file for Chagall. However, as I mentioned in the previous response, documentation is the necessary component to authenticity. I found the auction where you purchased the painting and I'm afraid the way they worded the listing and the fact it was sold without a reserve leads me to believe they do not have the paperwork on the piece. If they had paperwork, the painting would have been the highlight of the sale and the provenance listed in the sale catalog. I would be interested in what you paid for the painting and if you are able to get more information from the auction house. You can email me at

I hope this is helpful.

Kind regards,

Fine Art

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Dolly D Headley


I can assist with identification, acquisition, sell representation, and care of fine art prints and original paintings. Some of my artist specialties include Henri Toulouse Lautrec, California Artists, and the Modern Masters. I can also assist with information on getting professional appraisals and authentication.


Dolly D. Headley, owner of Headley Fine Art, LLC, has provided consultative art services to retail gallery clients in Sausalito, CA, and at since 1998. With over 14 years experience as a Senior Art Consultant, Gallery Director, and an extensive art research library; Ms. Headley has provided hundreds of people with her high quality personalized consultation services and solid guarantee of satisfaction. Dolly is a volunteer at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

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Bachelor of Science; Self taught with thousands of hours research and retail gallery consulting. Personalized mentorship from various experts in the industry.

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