TEFAF, the European Fine Art Fair, took place in March 2020 in Maastricht. Widely regarded as the world's most important art exhibition, TEFAF is a showcase with more than 275 prestigious dealers from 20 countries, and other key agents in the art industry. Applus+ has been providing authenticity certification services for the past 5 years, performing digital radiography and NDT on valuable artwork.
The company plays a part in one of the key aspects of the field, ensuring the authenticity of objects to exclude forgery. Applus+ RTD has conducted digital radiographic research to provide information about, among other things, materials used, changes over time and other details that are not directly visible on the surface.
Digital radiographic testing provides a direct image of the object, in a time-efficient, environmentally-friendly way, since it does not require the use of chemicals. The research is done behind a safe seal in a container; the back is equipped with a plumbum door and screen, a material that blocks radiation, and faces away from emissions to protect the artwork.
Applus+ RTD performed the investigation in collaboration with a Dutch museum responsible for all the scientific research at the fair. Ed Zonneveld and Enrico van Maren, Applus+ Senior NDT Specialists at the offshore department in the Netherlands, explain the process: when objects are designated as suspicious, the museum's research department determines which method is best to check its authenticity, based on the indication and the object.
Research options that the museum itself has deployed alongside the Digital Radiography department from Applus+ are:
- UV and IR reflectography to detect past restorations.
- A microscope to make visible details on the surface, compare materials, inspect repairs and provide insight into broken facets of jewellery, scratches and cracks, including those in fiberglass objects. It provides a detailed picture of the quality of surfaces.
- Portable equipment to provide basic information about the heavier elements in an artwork. It applies chemical elements to the surface of an object without taking samples, providing quick data about its composition.
In three days, Enrico and Ed examined around 35 artpieces, all of which turned out to be authentic. They worked alongside 170 specialists from all over the world working at the fair, specialised in the art of old masters, silver and ceramics.