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Fine Art/Authentication


I recently purchased a painting and was told that it is by Giovanni Boldini. I was aware that it might not be when I purchased it. It was purchased by a dealer in Germany but there is no provenance. It's oil on board, 11.5" x 9.5". I do not see how I can attach a photo to this message. If it is Boldini, it is probably an esquisse. It looks like his style but rough, like a quick sketch. The signature is a match from what I can find on the internet.

I've been searching for information on authentication and it looks like a very expensive process with uncertain results. I sent photos to Chicago Appraisers Association and they have asked for a check for $695. I would like to find a way to sell it without risking so much money on an authentication that may be meaningless. I'd like to know if authentication is a waste of time and money or if I do proceed, what sorts of questions I should be asking an authenticator. Thanks for any help that you might have. Michael

Dear Michael, Of course Boldini was one of the most important 19th century Italian artist, and his prices reflect that. Works by acclaimed artists are also encumbered by works of imitators and forgers. If you intend to sell the painting at auction you can send photos and complete description to Sotheby's or Christie's. If they feel it has a chance they will get it authenticated. If you want to get it authenticated yourself you will have to locate the present recognized scholar. I know in the 1980s it was Sigfrido Bartolini, but after so many years there is probably a different expert. If you call the 19th century painting department at Sotheby's or Christie's some times they will give you the information and other times not.
If you like you can send jpg images to my email at An image of the front, the back, and a close-up of any inscriptions or labels would be best. I could not authenticate it, but I could tell you if I felt it was obviously wrong.

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Daniel A. Hynes


Collecting, buying, selling, identifying, and caring for paintings, drawings,and watercolors (19th and early 20th century American and European). No prints, contemporary art, or works executed after 1940.


35 years as a fine art dealer, including 3 years as a gallery director. Also was art expert for Leslie Hindman's Auctioneers, and for Dunning's Auction.

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