The agency said this resource, which will eventually list more than 1,000 paintings, will help buyers spot some of the many fakes currently circulating on the art market. Four more volumes will be published over the next few months.
Anatoly Vilkov, the head of the agency, said many fakes originate abroad and are in fact works by little known 19th- and 20th-century European artists which are then modified by forgers to look like Russian works of the same period. The signature of a Russian artist is often added in. The forgers will then sell the paintings as “newly discovered” works by Russian masters. Mr Vilkov said it is extremely difficult to discover such fakes because any analysis of the canvas matches the period, as does the artistic style. Only analysis showing that a signature has been added later can definitely establish that a work is fake.
The State Tretyakov Gallery and the Grabar Art Restoration Center have admitted their scholars have authenticated clever forgeries.
The catalogue has a print run of 2,000 copies, but only half that number will be sold at stores as it is primarily aimed at dealers. Mr Vilkov said his agency will eventually put the information on its website: www.rsoc.ru.
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as: Government publishes first volume of fakes