On the seal and authenticity of hanging scrolls.

On the seal and authenticity of hanging scrolls.

In the world of hanging scrolls, as with other works of art, there are many forgeries.
In particular, there are many forgeries of works by famous or expensive artists.
Conversely, I feel that there are almost no forgeries of works by artists who were not so famous in the past. If forgeries do appear, they are few and far between.
The most famous artists for whom there are many forgeries are Maruyama Okyo, Tani Buncho, Ito Jakucho, Hakuin, Tomioka Tessai, Yokoyama Taikan, and so on. (There are many more, though.)

Next, let's talk about authenticity.
Personally, I believe that a seal is the last resort to determine authenticity.
Most art dealers will probably look at the quirks and atmosphere of the artist's painting before the seal.
And finally, the seal is checked.

This is because seals are the easiest to forge, and with today's technology, it is especially easy to imitate the shape.
I don't think it is possible to judge the authenticity of a work based on the shape of the seal alone.
(*In general, the real significance of a seal is that it guarantees the authenticity of the work by its artist. But there are, unfortunately, people who copy its form and misuse it.)
However, even if the shape of the seal can be imitated, the color of the seal cannot be reproduced.
The color of the seal of an old work is slightly discolored because of the age of the work.
Some painters use their own unique brown color instead of red.
Inevitably, if someone stamps a seal with the current color, it will be the coloring of a new era.

We believe that it is more important to learn the atmosphere and style of an artist's work by looking at it first, in order to determine authenticity.
Moreover, the more original works you see, the quicker and more accurately you can judge the authenticity of a work.
In other words, the best way to avoid being fooled is to see as many authentic paintings and calligraphy scrolls in person as possible. The best way to avoid deception is to see as many authentic paintings and calligraphy scrolls as possible in person, and to learn the peculiarities and power of the artist's painting style by watching them.
This means to hold a scroll in your hand and look at it directly, not through a photograph or a picture.

Next, I believe that the two key points in determining authenticity are "mounting" and "condition of the work.
Authentic works are always in good condition in terms of these two qualities. This is true even if the work is 200 to 300 years old.
The reason is that the mountings of works by famous and talented artists in the past are well-paid and time-consuming, and the mountings are of high quality.
And in the old days, collectors' homes had a special person who took care of that collection. (I'm talking about someone who expertly controlled the temperature, humidity, ventilation, etc.)
And the old mountings shop has good skills and uses pure silk and gold threads in a well-balanced way. They are also good at matching colors. They mounted those works in fine and expensive fabrics that are almost impossible to find nowadays.
That is how carefully collectors in the past mounted and stored the paintings and calligraphy they purchased from artists.
(Of course, many of the contents were left as they were in the old days, and the mountings and the Japanese paper on the back were re-tailored by later generations.)
So many good pieces are in beautiful condition (few folds or stains) for being several hundred years old.
The box is also made of real Japanese paulownia wood, so the paulownia box itself regulates humidity. This means that the box itself breathes.
This protects the scrolls from damage and insects. Just opening the box and airing out the scrolls from time to time is all that is needed to keep them clean.

Again, when it comes to judging authenticity, you cannot compete with someone who has seen the real thing (meaning not a forgery) in person many times. We believe that professional or amateur is irrelevant there.