The Photo Image of Artworks as an Instrument of Assessment and Attribution (the Case of Painting and Drawing by V. I. Shukhayev)


This article explores the use of photographic images of art pieces as a tool for assessment and attribution, focusing on Vasily Ivanovich Shukhayev’s (1887–1973) paintings and drawings. Shukhayev was a famous Russian and Soviet artist, who contributed to greatly to Russian art during the six decades of his artistic career. The artist’s works are kept in many state museums and private collections in Russia and abroad, and are also in high demand on the antiques market. Assessment and attribution of his works is, therefore, a pressing issue. Previously photographs of the pieces made at the exhibitions or during the plein-air paintings by the artist himself, as well as other photographic materials showing the artist with his works or their fragments were believed to be of low importance to the experts. The most important photos are those made within the artist’s lifetime or which belonged to the artist personally, especially if they contain inscriptions on the back. Such photos help to understand what the missing pieces look like, to confirm authorship and the creation dates, to find its variations and copies, to detect fake works, to show the artist’s working style and work stages and sometimes to prove that the artist painted the painting over (typical for V.I. Shukhayev). Altogether, creating a compilation of photographic images of works lost or distributed over the world helps shed light on the painter’s artistic career, a task particularly important for research, for museums and exhibitions, for educational work for monographs and catalogues development.

Keywords: photographic images, works of art, assessment, attribution, painting, drawing, V.I.Shukhayev

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