In the case of radiocarbon dating, the half-life of carbon 14 is 5,730 years.This half life is a relatively small number, which means that carbon 14 dating is not particularly helpful for very recent deaths and deaths more than 50,000 years ago.Thanks to the laboratory's modern equipment, a painting can be subjected to analysis using infrared reflectography, Wood's light, a stereoscopic microscope, IR spectroscopy and other instrumental techniques.3 e 4 - Microscopic analysis to examine the signs of ageing in the paint layer: the nature of the craquelure (natural or artificial - deep or superficial), the pigments (crystallinity, purity and size), restoration and other factors.Wood's light and monochromatic lights permit an evaluation of the extent to which the painting has been restored, touched up and overpainted, as well as the identification of various fluorescent substances.7, 8 e 9 - Infrared reflectography permits an in-depth examination of the painting bringing to light underdrawings or grids, pentimenti, the depth of the craquelure, and identification of restoration work or the use of different materials.These findings were recently published in EPJ Plus by Mariaelenea Fedi of the National Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN) in Florence, Italy, and colleagues.Previously, art historians had called upon scientists to compare the alleged Léger painting from the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, in Venice, Italy, with an authentic painting of the 'Contraste de formes' series belonging to the Solomon Guggenheim Foundation in New York, USA.There are different approaches for determining the authenticity of antique paintings: - verifying authenticity through a purely stylistic evaluation - verifying the authenticity of a painting by means of objective tests of the ageing of the material - verifying the authenticity of a painting with the use of scientific instrumental methods.
Now, a painting initially attributed as belonging to a series called 'Contraste de formes' by French Cubist painter Fernand Léger has definitely been identified as a forgery.
IR spectroscopic analysis permits the analysis of various materials to ascertain their compatibility with the presumed historic period: pigments, binders, glues and varnishes. The laboratory also digitalizes images obtained by the various techniques, carries out examinations under reflected and raking light, and performs microchemical analyses.
Certificates are issued with a clear and exhaustive report on the results of the analyses.
Physicists have used carbon dating to confirm that an alleged Fernand Léger painting was definitely a fake.
This is the first time it has been possible to identify a fake painting by relying on the anomalous behavior of the concentration of the radioactive form of carbon (14C) in the atmosphere after 1955 to date the canvas.