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A forensic scientist specialising in antiques and artwork would need to be an expert in both art and science. Firstly, the most clumsy artworks contain details that are not typical of the artist that they are attempting to copy or anachronisms.
Sometimes a Morrelian analysis or thorough examination can determine that a work is a forgery. For example, forgers drill holes to show as worm holes but an expert eye can detect the difference. Others use pigments that were not in use at the time the painting is from such as using Prussian blue developed in the 18th century in a work claimed to date from the Renaissance.
Other signs of doubtful provenance include:
* Frames, either new or old, that have been altered in order to make forged paintings look more genuine.
* To hide inconsistencies or manipulations, forgers will sometimes glue paper, either new or old, to a painting's back, or cut a forged painting from its original size.
* Recently added labels or artist listings, onto unsigned works of art, unless these labels are as old as the art itself, suspicion should be aroused.
* While art restorers legitimately use new stretcher bars when the old bars have worn, new stretcher bars on old canvases might be an indication that a forger is attempting to alter the painting’s identity.
* Old nail holes or mounting marks on the back of a piece, might indicate that a painting has been removed from it’s frame, doctored and then replaced into either its original frame or different frame.
* Signatures, on paintings or graphics, that look inconsistent with the art itself (either fresher, bolder, etc.).
* Unsigned work that a dealer has “heard” is by a particular artist.
There are a range of scientific tools that can be used to authenticate the age of a painting or antique. Carbon dating is the best known tool that can be used but there are a range of others. X-rays are also useful. While artists often painted over discarded paintings, a picture claiming to be from the 17th century on top of a work from the 19th century indicates a forgery.
The job description for an expert in antiques or art forgery would be varied. You would need to have a background in science or art and acquire an expertise in the field. Salary would be reasonably high given the level of expertise required and the monetary importance of the work given that authenticated artworks by well-known artists sell for millions of dollars but forgeries are of little value unless they are notorious.