Emily Crozier

Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Art Business

First Advisor

Judith Prowda

Second Advisor

Eric Wolf


This thesis will focus on the conservation of privately owned paintings by deceased artists to determine the durability of authenticity. The concept of authenticity is fragile and illusive. However, there are certain theories and attributes which help to determine whether a painting is authentic. It is generally agreed that the authenticity of a painting can be maintained or lost through conservation. It is therefore presumed that the conservator is ethically driven to preserve the authenticity of a painting as its cultural value is of paramount importance in the conservation process. However, conservation is not a purely ethical issue as it can affect the financial value of an artwork. As the profession of conservator is unregulated, the effect of conservation is a potential reason for loss of authenticity. This is evident through the case study of the painting once attributed to Egon Schiele entitled Vor Gottvater kniender Jüngling (Youth Kneeling before God the Father). Even when the work carried out by the conservator is of a very high standard and has been carried out with all ethical standards preserved, the work itself will have been altered in some material way thus compromising certain attributes formerly used to determine authenticity and considered authentic in and of themselves. This is evident in the case study of Salvator Mundi attributed to Leonardo da Vinci. Therefore, while the concept of authenticity can be preserved, the attributes of authenticity are in many ways ephemeral.