Subject:Re: UPDATE! - Two Paintings on Silk/Board - Artist?
Posted By: John Donohue Sun, May 10, 2020
Imagine my shock when the signature and seal on these two paintings was identified as Suzuki Kiitsu. These paintings are without provenance, acquired serendipitously. I’m not a “serious” collector, nor do I have expertise in this area. Below are some actions I’ve taken and some questions I have. I invite your comments and/or advice, thanking you in advance and wishing you the best during these challenging times. John
1. Sent images to three highly-specialized experts, as follows:
(A) US art dealer/gallery owner with experience with this artist, who declined to represent, citing concern about prevalence of copies and forgeries of works by Kiitsu, but suggested second opinion from well known US fine art museum.
(B) US university professor of art history, with Rimpa School specialization, who could not opine based solely on the images, but had concerns about some elements (shading of peonies, and branch structures of plum and cherry trees), in light of Kiitsu’s “intimate botanical understanding.” This expert also suggested, independently, that I request an evaluation from the same US fine art museum that was suggested by the dealer/gallery owner referenced in paragraph (A), above.
(C) A London-based expert at a major auction house, who has not responded.
(2) Next action: Will be shipping the paintings to US fine art museum for evaluation. QUESTION: Before doing so, should I leave the paintings intact in their frames, where their reverse sides (which may contain additional writing) cannot be seen due to the paper that covers the backs of the frames, OR should I remove the paper on the backs of the frames to see if any writing exists on the reverse of the boards (with a video recording of the opening of the backs of the paintings, to support provenance)?
(3) I have not seen the double-gourd seal on any other work by Kiitsu - has anyone else?
(4) The US university expert said they were “attractive and skillfully done,” but suggested they may be late 19th Century or early 20th Century forgeries.
(5) I understand how polluted the market is by forgeries, and that these two paintings may never be conclusively attributed to the great Suzuki Kiitsu. However, I feel obliged to the artist and to posterity to do more to authenticate them, if possible, or brand them forgeries, if that is patently evidenced. I will update this thread as further information becomes available to me.
(6) ONE BIG QUESTION I HAVE: In the lower-right quadrant in one of the paintings, there are two “washed out” figures that seem incongruous with the detailed precision of the rest of the paintings’ elements. WHAT ARE THESE? DO ELEMENTS SUCH AS THESE APPEAR IN OTHER KIITSU OR RIMPA PAINTINGS?
(7) LAST QUESTION: To date, I’ve only spoken to Western experts regarding these paintings. It seems only proper and respectful that I consult with experts in Japan, should these be true originals. CAN ANYONE SUGGEST AN EXPERT IN JAPAN WHO MIGHT BE WILLING TO ASSESS THEM IN PERSON? I WILL SHIP.
Thank you, all, so much for any practical advice or information you can offer. John