There are numerous cases when in one way or another, somebody finds out a painting that hung over a prestigious gallery for years is a fake. Or it could be that a once seemingly useless painting is actually a long lost original by a minor artist.
But what happens if it doesn’t what it appears to be?
One famous example of a mistaken identity is a Remembrandt called the Elderly Woman in a White Cap.
The painting is actually a portrait of an old woman (probably in her sixties) set in profile, wearing a white cap and a brown fur coat.
Trouble started when one source explained that it was a fake.
First, the canvass had multiple wooden panels, something the painter only employed single ones in all his canvasses.
Another thing is that the white cap was a dead giveaway that she was a mere servant, and that she could not have afforded to wear an expensive article of clothing, a fur coat, for example. In addition, Remembrandt could not have done the painting because a servant could not have afforded such luxury to pay him for his efforts in the first place.
The last part is the light effect the experts detected on her face. Since she was wearing a coat, light could not have reflected on the chin. As such, Remembrandt would not be caught dead (pun not intended) making such a mistake, since he was a sticker for details.
So, everybody would have agreed to these findings, if not for the other set that came about to debunk them.
Other experts were called to check on the paintings and found out the following interesting evidence:
The appearance and quality of the additional panels do not necessary meant that it was not Remembrandt’s. Somebody could have attached them at a much later date.
Yes, it was a servant who was being painted but the fur coat was added by someone else long after Remembrandt finished the painting. It was implied that this was done to increase the value of the painting. Apparently, rich people portraits are more expensive than those of the peasants. Go figure. So, if the panting was originally about a servant, then the dress should have been a white simple dress, as it is worn traditionally.
The second evidence would explain why there was a light reflection on her chin. The white dress would reflect the light, so logically, Remembrandt would have painted it to be seen that way.
As to the issue if the servant was able to afford Remembrandt’s services or not, it can be explained that at times, Remembrandt was known to make portraits of people from all walks of life, but not necessarily for their benefit or as paid service.
Therefore, the original Remembrandt is still an original, albeit an altered one. Yikes! That would probably worse for me, to own a tampered masterpiece by a classic painter. However, that is just my opinion. What do you think is better? A tampered masterpiece or a genuine fake?