So far published five issues. Each is decorated with big headlines: WARNING: MAY fake! NO criminals on the antiques market! Ladies and Gentlemen, check your collections! Etc.
Picking up any of the directories, the reader can see that fake works of art has in recent years, a wide scale and has become, in fact, a national problem. "One of three antique painting - forgery," - says a journalist from the "Arguments and Facts". And, most surprising, as poddelschikov serve not only professional painters, but ... professional experts, proving - intentionally or accidentally (understand this is not always easy) - all kinds of fakes. Revelations spoke primarily of the Tretyakov Gallery. "In the famous Tretyakov discovered 96 fakes" - was the title of an article in the newspaper "Novye Izvestia March 27, 2008. In other words: 96 counterfeits were found - the fault of our experts - the originals.
However, my attention when I was flipping through catalogs and read a newspaper article raised another thing: getting from Rosokhrankultura materials, casting doubt on the authenticity of individual works, the Tretyakov Gallery on his own initiative conducted an internal review and recognized their expertise error. The case, put it bluntly, exceptional.
Because in my case it was exactly the opposite: the experts of the Russian Museum recognized the forgery does not originals, but ... originals - fakes. And instead of understanding and carry out the example of the Tretyakov additional checks, steel dodge: to prove the unprovable. How long would have fallen into the case to the catalog page forgeries, the Internet, and possibly in court, if the protection of "academic staff" did not rise mountain Ministry of Culture.
My collection has always been relatively modest. She had about a hundred paintings, prints, drawings and etchings collected by his father, Professor Mark Azadovsky, art lovers and collectors, the author of works on the PA Fedotov. A close friend's father was widely known in his time in Leningrad collector FF Notgaft familiar and correspondent Alexander Benois, MVDobuzhinsky, BM Kustodieva and others. In the 1930's and Azadovsky Notgaft lived in an apartment on Herzen Street, watercolors, gouaches and oil paintings that fell into this apartment (they were given, usually the artists themselves), each time were discussed, were amateur evaluation and then found a permanent resting on the wall of one room - at a Azadovsky Notgafta.
The collection began dispersing in the 1960's. Difficult circumstances in which we find ourselves after the death of his father, his mother was forced to part with the works, some of them - watercolors and drawings BA Grigoriev, I. Ginzburg, E. Kruglikova, P. Shillingovsky and others - had already hit the Russian Museum (of course not call into question their authenticity). Another part of the collection was given to me in private hands or public records in the first half of the 1980's.
In the jargon this is called "provenance" - the history of the congregation. No collector or dealer will not risk to buy something today, not having reliable provenance. "Technology develops forgery, - says Peter Aven, president of Alfa Bank, one of the largest Russian collectors. - And so, gathering a collection, in recent years without a 100%provenance I do not buy it. Otherwise, it becomes extremely dangerous and senseless".
Correct. That's why no one thing from the collection Azadovsky never been and could not doubt. Facts, documents, memoirs of contemporaries showed: provenance is impeccable.
In November 2008, two years my work - gouache Sergei Sudeikina (with droppings on the back: "Puppet Theatre. Sudeikin pp. 1911"), and watercolor by Alexander Benois (Sketch to play by Moliere "Doctor willy-nilly", 1921) - were on examination in the Russian Museum, where they were presented with my knowledge of St. Petersburg dealer who expressed willingness to buy both things. At each of the works - which is important! - Was signed fulfilled their masters.
We explain to the reader: the word "expertise" in this case is not quite accurate. Our major museums (including the Russian Museum and Tretyakov Gallery) was in 2006 denied the right to give expert advice. A ban on the museum expertise, Rosokhrankultura replaced it with private experts who obtained a state license (the one exception - Russian art scientific restoration center Academician Igor Grabar). As for the museum staff, then their opinion, they can now clothe only in the form of "advisory opinion".
Such advisory opinion - the result of art studies and technological research - were made members of the Russian Museum in December 2008. The complex of studies on both my works, the experts of the Russian Museum came to the conclusion that the authorship of any one of them is not confirmed. Motivations:
1) signature Benoit and Sudeikina are counterfeit;
2) in watercolor attributed to Alexander Benois, visible in the infrared image with graphite, excluding the hand of the artist;
3) drawing, attributed Sudeikin carried helplessly and clumsily; watercolor pigments and paper can be dated no earlier than the second third of the twentieth century (ie, at the earliest - mid 1930).
Both conclusions signed by senior academic staff of the Russian Museum IB Verkhovsky, N. Solomatina, MV Cherkasova and certified by Deputy Director for Science E. Petrova.
After reading the advisory opinion, I as a historian, who graduated in 1969, art critics office LSU, could not help but wonder. First, to establish authenticity of a signature can only handwriting examination. Critics of the Russian Museum are not eligible to make such findings (in doubtful cases they should refer to specialists). Moreover, the level of their handwriting seemed dubious: for example, litter "Puppet Theatre" on the back sudeykinskoy gouache was read as "a theatrical theme."
Secondly, the conclusion on Benoit ("drawing, excluding hand ...") could be made only when Comparing things, provided for examination, with the so-called reference database. And although the mention of the standards present in official custody, it is causing me suspicion. It is known that all the other pictures Benoit made by him in 1921 for the play "Doctor willy-nilly, now stored at the State Museum of Theatre and Music. Learn about this easy: just open the book of Mark Etkind, dedicated to Alexander Benois (1965).
Thirdly, watercolor by Alexander Benois, who had allegedly been investigated in infrared and ultraviolet, X-ray fluorescence analysis was subjected to, etc., returned to me intact, ie zakonvertirovannoy (under glass in a frame) .
Fourthly, it was unclear how the experts established that the paper (meaning sudeykinskoy gouaches). Such studies are extremely complex and require special skills.
These and other perplexities I wrote to the Deputy Director for Science; asked to understand, cancel uneducated opinion, etc. In response - a stunning new paper.
In one of them reported that in gouache discovered the alleged "ftalotsianovye pigments (in an official opinion on them is not mentioned). What is this? Colorful pigments obtained abroad after 1935 and became widespread after World War II. And because in our country, these pigments were used only after 1960, then gouache Sudeikina (hanging in our house since the early 1930's - I remember it from childhood!) Was made, therefore, in 1960, 1970. The implication: someone manufactured a fake, signed for the master, dated, and trusting the buyer (or my father, who died in 1954, or myself) out of ignorance bought this thing, and now is trying to sell).
Another paper presented a formal letter addressed to the deputy director of the Russian Museum, EN Petrova. In this letter, OD Tsypkin, Head of the Laboratory kodikologicheskih research and scientific and technical examination of documents in the manuscript department of the Russian National Library, informed: they say, came to our laboratory watercolor by Alexander Benois (digital version). And, comparing the texts in watercolor Benoit with the signatures and inscriptions on the reference figures, he Tsypkin, has reason to believe that the signature on the Watercolor is not signed by Benoit. You can, of course, went on to say, examine the full, but it will take from half to two months (remember that the examination in the Russian Museum was carried out over two or three days), and the cost of the work will be from 50 to 70 thousand.
Who and when passed to Publichku digital version of watercolors Benoit, and even "back door", why and for what purpose was hatched this evil-smelling game - can only guess.
After reviewing the alleged official document to form the Russian National Library (no outgoing rates), I realized that I faced not with an error, but with intent. Not genuine mistake inexperienced professionals, and conspiracy directed against the two Russian works of art, - such was my disappointing conclusion.
To start, I turned to independent experts. The main issue concerned the signing of Alexander Benois. After all, the two venerable institutions - the Russian Museum and National Library of Russia in one voice say: the text of Alexandre Benois in the lower right corner of the watercolor is not signed by Benoit.
Greatest confidence in the circle of specialists use expert advice, expert-produced forensic controlled Interior Ministry. Indeed, nowadays there First-class pros. It was there - in the department of handwriting analysis Expert forensic center police department in St. Petersburg and Leningrad region - and I asked for an independent examination. After careful study watercolors Chief LA Sysoev concluded: all written texts (including signature) on the submitted drawing will be owned by Benoit.
And in respect Sudeikina outside help was required. Comparing the signature on the gouaches, signed the letters of the artist in 1911, I was convinced: the signature was genuine. It is so obvious that he did not cause problems. And if experts from the Russian Museum questions still arise, so you can not confine a categorical statement: "The handwriting in the signature and the inscription on the back of the sheet differs from the known handwriting samples SY Sudeikina; must train it as something to motivate. Motivation, alas, no. And it turns out that a deliberate nonsense, written on the letterhead of the Russian Museum, signed by experts and endorsed by the Deputy Director shall become effective authoritative and conclusive opinion.
Many were interested in me and the mysterious "ftalotsianovye pigments. It all was not easy - to conduct the necessary analysis of the paint layer can not in every laboratory. Finally luck: Institute of Precambrian Geology and Geochronology RAS in St. Petersburg produced a study of elemental composition and responded to a basic question: "Ftalotsianovyh dyes have been found.
I had to disturb and art - those most licensed experts who are currently only have the right to sign the expert opinion. Based on the fact that all samples of reference for this work Benoit in 1921 are stored in the Museum of Theatre and Music in St. Petersburg, I requested an examination in this institution. And what happened? Lead researcher museum expert on cultural values EI Grushvitskaya by examining provided me watercolor Benoit, concluded that: the original. And picturesque manner, and methods of execution, not to mention the signature, is fully consistent with the reference samples.
Thus, the authenticity of both works is undeniable proof. What's next? We can not tolerate the fact that the collection of MK Azadovsky, more precisely on its reputation, cast a shadow!
Doubt that this kind of problem can be resolved in court, I wrote a detailed letter to the Minister of Culture A. Avdeev. Attached to the letter (nine pages) put evidence - to 40 sheets. He emphasized the dubious coloring matter and requested the deal not only with senior academic staff from the Russian Museum, but with the head of the Laboratory kodikologicheskih research - the author of a deliberate fake (the good and the Russian Museum and National Library are administered by the Ministry of Culture).
In a long letter came a short answer. Its essence boils down to one sentence: "In recognition of your right not to be consonant with the conclusions of experts of the Russian Museum, the Department of Cultural Heritage and Art nonetheless does not question their competence and proficiency." Signed - Robert H. Colo.
In other words, there and there was nothing except for my disagreement with the opinion of specialists from the Russian Museum. Opinion on the view, so to speak. Excuse me, please. A three expert opinion! A letter from NLR! But, alas, does not see the Ministry of Culture and does not want to see. A citizen wrote to the Minister - it is his right. Let him write! And we still will not give out our offense. Our people are not wrong!
Cunning and cynicism of Russian officials can sometimes discourage, but not surprising. We are accustomed to a game system with the citizens. And not such a thing! Cover their - good old tradition. Esprit de corps, dirty linen in public, etc. The familiar play! Since Soviet propaganda headlong rejected any defamatory statements "from there.
And yet - what can we do? First of all, with our cultural heritage, which seems to be protected, and not least the Ministry of Culture. How to be works of great painters, Benoit and Sudeikina? There was a time - they, emigrants were sent to the store. And now? Where do I - after the conclusion of the consultation - to send two lovely little things these artists? On the dusty loft? Or in the trash?
And another question: what is behind the "errors" (or rather, games), museum staff? Ignorance? Incompetent? Dishonesty? Or something worse?
Our press has been suggested that the experts are colluding with art dealers, saying that mutual interest that pushes them toward each other. And besides the money that entered into the accounting, hand walking more and more money. Good idea to check the stories and in this perspective. But who will? Prosecutors? Court? "I think - says Peter Aven, - that we must judge the experts who provide false expertise.
Specialists of the Russian Museum for some reason are afraid of the court. After examining the contract № 252 from 04.12.2008, the (consultancy contract research character ...") I do not be surprised to read in its paragraph 3.3: writing the research result, whatever it may be, shall not be transferred to the judicial bodies.
How strange? Is the Constitution does not grant citizens the right to judicial protection of their interests and rights! Nevertheless, no court can not resolve the question of the authenticity of a work of art. The court must turn to the experts. But experts on Russian art - where are they? First and foremost, of course, the Russian Museum, to whom many of our ignorance or naivete still trust. And not just judges.
No, do not go to court. Обращаться надо к культурному сообществу, к коллекционерам, искусствоведам и знатокам живописи... Любой случай, подобный этому, должен стать предметом пристального изучения, а имена лжеэкспертов — достоянием гласности. Только так и можно, наверное, защитить в наши дни репутацию личной коллекции.
И не следует почтительно снимать шляпу перед брендами: Русский музей, Третьяковская галерея... Времена изменились. Дело, конечно, не в учреждениях — дело в людях. Мне ничуть не стыдно за то, что часть произведений из коллекции моих родителей оказалась в конце концов в Русском музее. Люди приходят и уходят — музеи остаются.
В начале ХХ века Александр Николаевич Бенуа радостно приветствовал открытие музея Александра III. Что сказал бы выдающийся деятель русской культуры, если бы знал, что спустя сто лет его скромная акварель 1921 года будет признана — в том же самом музее! — "исключающей руку Бенуа", а его собственноручная подпись — "несхожей по начертанию"!