Last month in the New York Old Master sales, Sotheby’s sold Constable’s Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows for $5.2m. Just before the sale, Sotheby’s brought the painting to Art Analysis & Research. The consignor had purchased the work in London as a Follower of Constable. The consignor paid $5300. Sotheby’s asked for Art Analysis & Research’s help to provide convincing evidence of the new attribution.
AA&R prepared an X-Ray of the cleaned painting (you can see samples here) for prospective buyers to compare to accepted works by John Constable. Our scan revealed features from idiosyncrasies of technique, such as the oddness of the cut canvas weave below, through the evolution of the pictorial composition visible in the differences between X-ray and surface, to the bravura brushwork of the final painting.
This painting is obviously an exceptional case. It is very rare to find a work with such extensive and misguided ‘restoration.’ But the judicious use of X-Ray and infrared scanning can elevate the level of confidence surrounding connoisseurship and scholarship. AA&R has developed a unique system for scanning available in our New York and London labs. And we maintain a substantial library of scanned Old Master works to use as reference materials.
We combine the highest levels of accuracy with responsive and cost-effective service. Please contact us if you have an artwork you have questions about.
One final note, although scanning techniques are most often used in Old Master paintings, the process is equally valuable for illuminating Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary works. With the additional of AA&R’s materials analysis, many important questions can be resolved. Please get in touch with us to discuss how we might help you.