Fingerprint Analysis

Fingerprints analysis

Edmond Locard, a French pioneer in forensic science, once wrote that every contact leaves a trace. Proceeding from that doctrine, known as the Locard Exchange Principle, art history offers many opportunities for forensic scientists. Throughout the ages, the physical contact between artists and their materials has often left revealing traces. One of these is fingerprints. Fingerprints can be found on almost any solid surface, including paintings. Visible prints are formed when blood, dirt, ink, or paint, etc., is transferred from a finger or thumb to a surface. Latent prints are formed when the body’s natural oils and sweat are transferred from the skin onto another surface. Latent prints can be found on a variety of surfaces; however, they are not readily visible and detection often requires the use of fingerprint powders, chemical reagents, or alternate light sources.

In the art authentication process, attribution to a specific author is the main issue. The experienced analyst can match a painting with its artist. However, when dealing with an unidentified artwork of unknown provenance, fingerprint analysis can be the key. The fingerprint examination process utilizes the ACE-V method (Analysis, Comparison, Evaluation and Verification) to compare a collected fingerprint to a set of known prints. There is also another system called the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS), which was created to find fingerprint matches using a computer database.

Contact us today to arrange for your artwork to be analyzed: