July 16th, 2013

Just inside the pages of this month’s ARTnews magazine is a brilliant advertisement for Bonhams Auctioneers and Appraisers. I’ve inserted the images, below, which help to highlight the strength of the auction house’s research into each auction item’s provenance.

“At Bonhams, we never judge a book, or a painting, by one side alone.”

The advertisement highlights particulars on the backside of a painting, far to often overlooked, to show the history of the painting (in this case, The Senora’s Garden by E. Charlton Fortune, in 1918).

Everything from a 1921 exhibition chalk marking to replacement canvas “keys” on the back, as well as a (rarely seen) “artist’s car,” which confirms the painting’s original authenticity and price of $500.

Doing the research realizes remarkable gains for both the auction house and the seller — The Senora’s Garden realized a $722.500 sale earlier this spring.

Next time you purchase a work of art — new, antique, or passed-down — turn it over and take a look at the clues that only a backside of an artwork can deliver.