Through the investigation IFAR did in 1993, they reached out to John Richardson on two separate occasions. Mr. Richardson had been contacted back in 1991 by Walter Croft in regards to the Kodak slide that showed proof that the painting existed before the drawing was made, but Mr. Richardson had not responded to Mr. Croft or to the representatives that sent Mr. Richardson the full testimony and photos of the painting.
As a favor to IFAR, the first occasion - he studied a professionally made photograph of the painting, and then the second time when IFAR brought the actual painting to him for an in depth direct viewing.
After reviewing the photograph, Mr. Richardson stated that to the best of his knowledge,
Picasso never copied something exactly,
and in his experience,
whenever he has seen an exact copy it has always been a fake.
He added that Picasso very seldom copied a drawing in paint. He said that “Picasso used drawings as preparatory studies for paintings and to copy a linear drawing in linear paint would be very uncharacteristic.”
Mr. Richardson acknowledged that Picasso did give works of art as gifts and often inscribed them. However, in his opinion, the lines in the foreground areas which purportedly include the family names correspond too closely to the Saint Denis original and therefore cannot be a personal inscription.
He stated that “there is little spontaneity in the painting - that it is laborious and clumsy and probably was copied from a lithograph.
Mr. Richardson was aware of many reproductions made after the Saint Denis drawing, but the printed edition referred to by Pierre Diax does not appear in the catalog of Picasso’s prints. Mr. Richardson was not familiar with a version of the image that appears to be signed and dated but not numbered in the stone “ Picasso 10-3-55”.
Mr. Richardson said that it was not customary for Picasso to sign a print in the stone, and that he would normally sign and number them separately. Because large numbers of reproductions exist of this work, he suggested that the image may have been mechanically reproduced, possibly by photo-lithography.
After this visit, IFAR felt it was important to have Mr. Richardson view the actual painting and arranged a viewing. Mr. Richardson confirmed that in his opinion the painting was done after the original in 1955. He did not comment on the results of any of the scientific evidence and instead only commented that it might even be a copy of a copy, that is done after a large reproduction of the drawing or from a ceramic. Specifically he stated that Picasso suited his graphic style to the size and scale of paper and canvas on which he worked. By comparison he said this one looks as if the graphic style has been blown up. In his judgement the painting was unquestionably done after the Saint Denis drawing.
Review of Richardson's Evaluation
Certain points of Mr. Richardson's examination deserve a closer look.
- Mr. Richardson did not deny that the pilot's wife's name, the pilot's name, and the family's last name were indeed in the painting - and in the drawing, but contested that because the names were in both meant that it couldn't be a personal inscription. For whatever reason the pilot's wife's name, his name, and their last name just happen to have been in the drawing, rather than considering the notion that the names were put into the original painting and then because they were a part of the image - were copied into the drawing. It would be an interesting coincidence to have one name appear in a painting - but two full names? It is illogical to think that would be a coincidence.
- He suggested that the image may have been mechanically reproduced, possibly by photo-lithography, but the scientific findings showed this to be untrue. It would also seem that if the painting was mechanically reproduced it would have been an exact duplicate - but the painting is not. There are numerous variations between the painting and the drawing - Differences in Images
- Mr. Richardson would not comment on the scientific evidence that determined the painting to have been made before the drawing. He didn't give any comments on the pigment testing, the carbon dating, the Kodak slides from various experts - but most notably the McCrone Research Institute, nor the pilot's testimony.
- If someone was to create this painting from a "copy of a copy" as Richardson suggested, why would they have gone through all of the trouble to find paint and canvas from before 1950? If they had done that much research in order to create some kind of master forgery - wouldn't it be more likely that they would have copied the original drawing? gotten the scale right? or used the right date?
- Richardson's evaluation did provide an answer (though probably not his intention) to a question that the pilot had only presumed. The pilot was never completely certain how Picasso had made the drawing from the painting since the painting had been in the pilot's possession since 1947, but he assumed that Picasso had kept sketches or drawings - or possibly even developed the film which had pictures of the painting. In his evaluation, Richardson stipulated that Picasso typically used drawings as preparatory studies for paintings. Richardson's comment was that to copy a linear drawing in linear paint would be very uncharacteristic - but this statement doesn't really make sense. If Picasso created sketches as preparation for the painting that he made for the pilot in 1947, then he would have been able to use those same sketches to reproduce the work as an ink drawing to be printed in the magazine in 1955.