Regular Article

The European Physical Journal Plus

, 129:6

Discovering forgeries of modern art by the 14C Bomb Peak

  • L. CaforioAffiliated withDipartimento di Fisica e Astronomia, Università di FirenzeSezione di Firenze, INFN
  • , M. E. FediAffiliated withSezione di Firenze, INFN Email author 
  • , P. A. MandòAffiliated withDipartimento di Fisica e Astronomia, Università di FirenzeSezione di Firenze, INFN
  • , F. MinarelliAffiliated withLeonardo S.r.l. - Analysis and Restauration
  • , E. PecceniniAffiliated withDipartimento di Fisica e Scienze della Terra, Università di FerraraTecnopolo di Ferrara, Laboratorio TekneHub
  • , V. PellicoriAffiliated withDipartimento di Fisica e Scienze della Terra, Università di Ferrara
  • , F. C. PetrucciAffiliated withDipartimento di Fisica e Scienze della Terra, Università di FerraraTecnopolo di Ferrara, Laboratorio TekneHubSezione di Ferrara, INFN
  • , P. SchwartzbaumAffiliated withSolomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
  • , F. TaccettiAffiliated withSezione di Firenze, INFN

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Abstract.

Exploiting the anomalous behaviour of the atmospheric radiocarbon concentration in the years after 1955 (so-called “Bomb Peak”), an alleged painting by Fernard Léger was unambiguously proven to be a fake just by dating the canvas support. Some art historians had questioned the authenticity of the painting, and their suspicions were fuelled by some scientific examinations of the paint materials (X-ray radiography, SEM-EDS), compared to those of another work unquestionably attributed to Léger. The decisive argument to prove that it was a fake was provided by the radiocarbon date obtained from a sample of canvas of the painting, using Accelerator Mass Spectrometry at the INFN-Labec laboratory in Florence. Beyond any doubt, the cotton plant from which the canvas was produced was cut no earlier than 1959, i.e. four years after Léger's death, thus definitely confirming the concerns of a fake.