How to tell if a painting is original

How to tell if a painting is original

Introduction

Paintings have been the darling of many people throughout human history; both the artist and the target audience have indulged themselves with paintings, either as an investment or simply for enjoyment. For some individuals, paintings are simply for their wall décor while for others it is a lifetime investment. In either case one thing stands out, no one would love to by an unoriginal painting. Sadly enough the painting industry has seen the worst forgery in history; with con artists reproducing others’ original artwork for quick cash from unsuspecting buyers. This fact alone underscores the need for prior information on the quality of original art paintings.

Identifying an Original Painting

The processes of determining whether a painting is an original or not, is not a walk in the park. Objective research on the signature patterns of different artists is required if the authentication process is to be relied on; the research might involve a close comparison of paintings to see whether the quality of material used is in line with the age of the painting -- for example, when studying a floral painting on canvas, patina and anachronisms should be looked for to help determine the age. This is so important; especially when the painting is being touted as a very old piece of art. Patina will only form after a long period; thus the greenish color on copper frame won’t be found on a recent painting. Anachronism on the other hand, shows the use of old materials on a new painting, thus raising eyebrows.

Smell and Some Other Visual Signs

One effective way to authenticate oil paintings is to literally smell them. The oil smell takes years to disappear; thus a painting claiming to be from the 1800s which still contains an oil scent might just be a forgery. In addition to smelling; the use of a bright light from the back will show some pencil marks by the artist during sketching, this is important when one suspects that the piece might have just been printed. Also original and old artworks have a lot of paper trail showing different ownership, starting with the painter and with detailed certificates of authentication. Also; please consider if the canvas used for the painting is stapled, this rules out paintings belonging to the 18th century or before -- stapling wasn’t done during those olden days rather the canvas was tied to the frame.

Depth of Paint and Third Party Reviewing

Finally; to ensure that your investment isn’t a waste, check for the depth of paint i.e. number of layers of paint the artwork has. Most copied works can’t reproduce the layers, just like it would be impossible to reproduce patina on the frame. To avoid misjudgement; allow a review of the paint from experts or a third party who might not like painting, this will help with independent information on the paint and the artist.

Posted on 12/07/2014 Art Blog 1155