Collecting Famous Seals

Occasionally a seal will be seen with a signature carved into the side of the stone by a famous Chinese seal artist. Seals cut by Qi Baishi (1864-1957) have such a distinctive style that they are recognizable even without a signature. But the Chinese have a long history of creating forgeries. I recall something a curator of Chinese art once said about Chinese paintings being 50% authentic or 80% authentic, and so on. For instance, an authentic signature carved on the side of a seal stone does not ensure that the seal carved on the face of the stone is by that artist (for more information see the chapter on seal forgeries in Sun Weizu’s book The History and Art of Chinese Seals). Don’t even consider collecting seals by famous carvers unless you have an unlimited budget—they are incredibly expensive—and a very strong disposition.

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