Skip navigation

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title: Świat sygnatur
Other Titles: The world of signatures
Le monde des signatures
Authors: Widła, Tadeusz
Keywords: criminalistics; forensic examination of handwriting; questioned signatures; document examination; examination of artist’s signatures
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Katowice : Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Śląskiego
Abstract: The analysis of the objects of research, that is of about three thousand signatures (of which the majority were the ones belonging to Old Masters) as well as of the literature on the subject, leads to a conclusion that works of art and signatures are two different worlds. The first of these worlds is a world of artistic products, the second, a world of markings used by the makers (producers). In effect, these two worlds became independent from one another: the work of art to be used as such does not require a signature; although its lack may cause problems of attribution and authenticating/falsifying, and have a negative bearings on the market circulation of the work in question. A much less frequent phenomenon, although also occurring, is a market independence of signatures, which should not be surprising because there does exist a market of brand names and logos. The appearance of normative regulations is the logical outcome of this state of affairs. A significant number of countries, including Poland for some time now, have a separate legal penalty for falsifying works of art and for conducting transactions involving them, as well as a separate legal penalty for falsifying/altering signatures on works of art - similar to falsifying/altering brand signs of different kind. And such a legal solution is right, because neither does it follow that if the work of art is authentic, the signature must also be authentic, nor does it follow that if the signature is authentic, the work of art must also be authentic. The signatures by contemporary artists take their construction after the pattern of natural signatures - expressing artistic identity and independence. Once in the past - and signatures confirm it - there was a different state of affairs. The official representation belonged to a company, like a workshop inscribed within the urban structure of guilds, or, much later, an artist being a member of a regional corporation of artists called painting academy. In effect, there were both personal signatures and workshop signatures (company logotypes are our contemporary counterparts of these). The owner of the company/workshop would only be allowed to sign the work, and the artists employed there had to comply with their lower position in the hierarchy, which was marked not only by the necessity of painting in the style of the master (owner), but also by the inability to sign their work. The analysis of the practice of signature making informs us about artistic emancipation - the change of status from the position of a contractor to a position of an independent artist. It also shows other social phenomena, for example, the emancipation of women artists. The signatures of Old Masters belong to the category of artistic expression, although a verbal one. Today we also encounter such signatures, although their manner does not coincide with the common practice. This opens up a new area of research - the connections of artistry expressed in the work of art with a decorative form of personalized expression. This has been to a great extent dismissed, so this area breeds more questions than offers convincing answers. Similarly, as far as it is possible to find a practical explanation for the old practice of placing signatures on frames (paintings were usually ordered already framed), this explanation is not enough for the practice of placing signatures on false-frames. Why would contemporary artist place their signatures on false-frames? Would the practice of the so-called enmeshed signature express the painter’s modesty or the attempt not to disturb the whole of the composition? What is the relationship between the personality of the artist and the preferable ways of signing; what influence on signing would the psychosomatic disfunctions of artists have? In summary: the current state of research on signatures shows that it is a field where multiple questions can be asked and there is no reasonable answer to the question why it has not been done earlier. In literature of the field the descriptions of signatures are only limited to the presentation of their content, and, for example, monograms only occur in two types. The limited scope of information seems to be stemming from the lack of proper language - the lack of proper terminology which would be the result of scrupulous research. The signatures of the Old Masters form material for palaeographic research, because they register the changes in lettering and other scribal phenomena, for example, the ways of dating preferred at different centuries or abbreviations, already slipping into oblivion. Paradoxically, the results of such research will contribute to the practice of attesting the authenticity of works of art. In the case of the Old Masters the classic comparative studies of signatures may be conducted, to which the study of Rembrandt’s signatures testifies. Unfortunately, this will be possible much rarely than in the case of signatures on paintings attributed to modern artists. The natural processes of aging of paints as well as “aggressive” and frequent, although correct in terms of technique, efforts at conservation may seriously limit the possibility of gaining knowledge about personal signatures. Thus, the revealing of anachronisms of writing and language may become the only source of convincing arguments at the expert’s disposal. It requires conducting and developing proper research, because the falsifier’s lack of knowledge in this respect finds expression in their mistakes, but only an expert in possession of such knowledge will be able to notice such mistakes. This adds to the significance of what forensic expertise of handwriting calls the sphere of content and language of a written statement.
ISBN: 9788322632185
Appears in Collections:Książki/rozdziały (WPiA)

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
Widla_Swiat_sygnatur.pdf318,18 MBAdobe PDFView/Open
Show full item record

Uznanie autorstwa na tych samych warunkach 3.0 Polska Creative Commons License Creative Commons