Sunday, April 19, 2015

Much Ado about Morrisseau

When it comes to online research about Norval Morrisseau, much has been written about forensic analyses. Last year, a New York trial court held that handwriting expert testimony was not "scientific". Nonscientific experts are "experientially qualified" — that is to say, their experience largely is their expertise. Yet few experts have ever witnessed Norval Morrisseau draw, paint or sign anything.

In reality, Norval Morrisseau rarely signed any absolute genuine paintings on the reverse, and if he did, they were more likely than not titled only in pencil. Morrisseau's distinctive combinations of lowercase and uppercase cursive letters are easily discernible by anyone with significant experience with the painter.

Paul Robinson personally inspected hundreds of genuine Morrisseaus as he inventoried all of the remaining artwork in Norval Morrisseau's possession at the artist's Nanaimo studio during Spring, 2001. "I think I know Morrisseau's work as well as anybody," said Mr. Robinson, 50 years old. "The enormity of disinformation by a few individuals with a vested interest in selling fakes is a travesty," he said.
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  1. Thank you for maintaining your blog. It has been a fantastic source of information.

    I've read so much online and it's hard to tell what's opinion and what's fact. It's truly upsetting.

    I'm in the market for an original painting, and I've seen a lot of paintings with Norval's signature on the back with the title. Some from galleries, more online. Is it safe to assume that they are all fakes?

  2. If you’re in the market for an original Morrisseau our advice is to deal with a member gallery of the Art Dealers Association of Canada (

    To give you an idea of the scope: during oral testimony one collector admitted to owning “upwards of 200 paintings” attributed to Morrisseau, many of which are circulating in auction markets.

  3. A signature, even if it's real, does not mean the same hand rendered the painting. Handwriting experts are not art experts.


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