Museum Security Network

Artists turn to vellum to beat the forgers copying their work

Patrick Sawer , Senior Reporter01/10/2017

With millions of pounds at stake the art world has long wrestled with how to detect forgeries, from using chemical paint analysis to X-rays, infra-red examination and putting canvases under the microscope.

But one solution has been staring us in the face all this time, and it dates back hundreds of years.

Contemporary artists are increasingly turning to vellum – the prepared animal skin sometimes known as parchment on which Britain’s Acts of Parliament have traditionally been printed – to insure against the risk of copies of their work being passed off as originals.

But while the use of vellum goes back to the classical age, its use to foil bogus copies of valuable paintings is the result of a very modern technique – DNA analysis.

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