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The analysis of tiny traces of colour is sufficient to uncover a fake painting

Robert Trotter forged Sarah Honn's picture of 1866 only in the second half of the 20th century | James Hamm, Buffalo State College, The State University of New York, Buffalo, NY

Modern instruments make it possible to apply the radiocarbon method to test considerably smaller samples than before. For decades now, experts have been proving the forgery of paintings not only by means of suspicious brushstrokes.

Why it matters. Even if more modern methods exist, the radiocarbon method is also used to uncover fakes: it can be used, for example, to determine the age of a canvas. An international team of researchers has now added a refined variant to this method that even allows the analysis of thin layers of paint.