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Frames in Europe are made of carved wood or plaster, but in China of resin.European stretchers are distinguished by being made from oak or mahogany. New paintings actually smell different from old ones.
Then there are the ‘improvers’ who have added to, and amended, original works.I have spent 25 years learning how to spot what might lie beneath the surface but anyone can learn the basic techniques of the art detective.And it certainly repays a little time and patience: the rewards can be substantial.The late Labour MP Tony Banks bought a portrait of 18th Century statesman Henry Fox at auction at a knock-down price. Airborne, it permeates oil paint, over time turning it more and more yellow.One effect is to make a sitter in a portrait look older and less attractive.