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However, results on the canvas alone may be inconclusive, as canvas may have been reused by the artist himself as an economic measure or intentionally by a forger with the intent to deceive.
The infamous Han Van Meegeren (1889–1947), who specialized in forging Vermeer paintings, is known to have scraped the paint off of older paintings to reuse the canvases to yield the illusion of a naturally aged painting substrate (16, 17).
Thus the additional dating of the paint reveals the forger’s scheme where the repainting of an appropriately aged canvas was used to convey the illusion of authenticity.
Art forgeries have existed since antiquity, but with the recent rapidly expanding commercialization of art, the approach to art authentication has demanded increasingly sophisticated detection schemes.
The case study presented here is a known forgery created by Robert Trotter (b. By his own admission, Trotter conducted 52 sales of his fakes and forgeries from 1981 to 1988 (23).
The method, however, is invasive and in its early days required sampling tens of grams of material.
With the advent of accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) and further development of gas ion sources (GIS), a reduction of sample size down to microgram amounts of carbon became possible, opening the possibility to date individual paint layers in artworks.
In cases where no pigment, filler, or binder anachronisms are identified, the judgment of degradation products arising from natural aging is inconclusive, and radiocarbon dating of the support material is indecisive, dating of the binder in the pictorial layer is indispensable.
The idea of identifying modern forgeries based on C dating of the binder was formulated with the advent of AMS (22), but suffered from practical limitation as the study was conducted on 100-mg scale sample material, an unfeasible sampling quantity for artworks.