My own Experience of Art Provenance Research and Discovery

Anton Bertzik, MarinaViatkina.com
Anton Bertzik, MarinaViatkina.com

You may have read my numerous Art Collecting Guide stories on how to safely buy an Old Master [including examining the painting surface, the frame, and the back of the picture]. Here I follow precisely the steps I covered in those elaborate articles you could use in the art research and discovery process of your own.

I bought this intriguing female portrait by an unknown painter more than three years ago. “England, 19th century” — that’s basically all the details a provincial German auction house has included in the lot information space.

The painting had a rather modest estimate which would be typically given to a no-name small-scale picture like this one. …


To appreciate art, you don’t have to be physically near it

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Smart Art — Art History Escape app

Well, at least to set your foot on this path of enjoying art and learning more about it. Especially in the post-COVID era [are we already post or rather still in though?].

In this article, I won’t go into just simply numbering the commonly known resources like Wikipedia or WikiArt (which is always good to find some initial information and visuals if you know exactly what you are looking for).

Instead, I’d rather show you some resources I use myself — the ones that feed my own art passion and keep me in the loop of that’s going on the art world today. …


Behind-the-scenes of Smart Art

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A little more than half-a-year has passed since the day I launched my experimental Smart Art group on Facebook in early December 2019.

Don’t get me wrong with this tricky word experimental. Back then I simply didn’t know almost anything of how to manage the community or what to do to make it growing, and, most importantly, engaged.

All that I had back then — is a strong and irresistible desire to spread my passion about art and art history and make this part of the international heritage of mankind more accessible to a wider audience of art lovers across the globe. …


Art detective investigation during the #StayAtHome

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This is the second part of the Mysterious Portrait series of articles from the Hidden Gem blog where I capture my journey of researching the identity of the sitter of this remarkable portrait by one of the most important French painters of the 18th century Carle van Loo (1705–1765).

In the Part I of this story I challenged the existing suggestion that has been around for centuries and some of my initial ideas on the way to rule out the unlikely candidates that may seem appropriate at first sight.

Read it first if you haven’t and welcome to Part II to explore what I found out next. …


Art detective investigation during the #StayAtHome

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This amazing portrait caught my eye back in 2018. I was looking through my insane art-only Instagram feed and stumbled upon the detailed close-up details of the rich and juicy fabric of the sitter’s nightgown.

Looking forward to finding this piece in a high-resolution somewhere online I searched for the artist’s name and the painting title and found nothing, but the suggestion it was painted by Carle van Loo (1705–1765).

In this two-part series of the Hidden Gem blog articles I’ll try to capture my journey of researching the identity of the sitter of this remarkable portrait and take him out of such a pityful obscurity. …


Art that heals and courage that inspires

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This post was inspired by a recent sale of the notable The Pohl-Ströher Collection of Portrait Miniatures that happened on Sotheby’s couple of weeks ago.

A skillful self-portrait of not-a-household-name artist was estimated at quite an ambitious sum for this type of art [while portrait miniatures are usually still well under-estimated] — £ 1,200–1,800.

To everyone’s big (and happy) surprise it made a striking £137,500 in spite of a crack from the left side and some initial colour fading! What a record!

This was a miniature self-portrait before her easel by Sarah Biffin (or Biffen), later Mrs Wright, from circa 1821. …


Forthcoming Old Master sale highlights, Part II

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This is my second list of Old Master sale highlights this December, this time coming from Christie’s Evening Sale that is about to happen in London, 3 Dec 2019.

See the Part I of this mini-series here.

I would like to share with you my selection of the forthcoming winter sales with my short commentary on side. …


Forthcoming Old Master sale highlights, Part I

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End of the year is a time when we all love to receive gifts and indulge ourselves with some pleasures we treasure. For those in love with art there is always a tradition to look through the forthcoming Old Master weeks at the grand auctions in the sourse of inspiration.

And there are things to look at, no worse than at headliner exhibition shows by the best museums.

As an art collector myself I am always interested to see what’s on. If not to buy, then at least to “train the eye” — to see the best examples of art out there on the market to then easily separate the wheat from the chaff in the myriads of artworks. …


Rare picture in dispute between collector and the state

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Photo credit: RIA Novosti

European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has recently communicated quite an extraordinary case concerning a rather rare and important 19th century painting. This longstanding lawsuit against Russia was initiated by art collectors Alexander and Irina Pevzner whose oil painting of Christ in the Tomb by Karl Bryullov was misappropriated back in 2003 and has been kept imprisoned in the State Russian Museum ever since.

This unbelievable from the common wisdom standpoint story began 17 years ago when German (and former Russian) nationals Alexander Pevzner and his wife Irina came across an interesting painting hanging in cathedral obscurity in the Russian Orthodox Church of the Resurrection in Brussels, Belgium. …


Art investigation that turns fortunes into fakes

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“Why don’t you collect Russian art?”, — I can’t say how many times I have been asked this question for my short period of studying and collecting art. There have always been two important reasons making me opt out of going into this.

First of all, it is usually way overpriced right at the beginning. Many factors contribute to this: they maybecome a story for a stand-alone article. And the second one is actually what this longread is all about — chances are you buy a fake are rather high. …

About

Marina Viatkina

Entrepreneur, artist, researcher and art collector → marinaviatkina.com

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