Provenance: Old Gallery Labels Are Not Enough
In our opinion, the current vendor should be responsible that the work is as described in terms of authenticity.
It is our observation that some resellers of high value important fine art - "classics" - occasionally support the authenticity exclusively on the strength of labels of reputable galleries that had apparently sold the work previously. This is what might be referred to as part of the "provenance' of a work of art. Essentially the seller is saying that a now retired or deceased expert conceivably 50 or 70 years ago stated this to be by the master.
While a label on the reverse of a work of art may support the work's authenticity, to rely on it exclusively may be ill advised.
The appearance of a label even from the most celebrated galleries on the reverse of a frame is not a guarantee that it was affixed by the actual gallery to that specific work. One doesn't even know that the label is an authentic one.
It can be possible, for instance, that that now retired or deceased expert's opinion of 50 or 70 years ago does not concur with that of current market respected expertise. Today's buyer needs to buy in accordance with today's expertise. Today's seller should accept the responsibility to provide the appropriate expertise with your fine art purchase.
The wise and prudent place to buy important fine art of quality is at mainstream art galleries, those offering a genuine market respected expertise for what they are selling.
Alan Klinkhoff examining the back of a Lawren Harris painting. An Emily Carr watercolour hangs in the background.