Relevant categories: Oil Paintings
( Above Photo: Spanish Oil Painting Granada Still Life Arabesque Interior )
Antique oil paintings are valuable art pieces with both natural and sentimental value. But original oil paintings are always better than reproductions.
How do you know if you have an original painting or a reproduction? There are several signs you can look at to identify antique oil paintings, as detailed below:
( Above Photo: Victorian Oil Painting Punting on the Cam - Cambridge River Scene Portrait )
The first telltale sign that you have an antique painting is the darkening in the back of the canvas. Turn the painting over and check for darkening that results from age. If you notice any dark patches, the painting is an antique, not a reproduction.
Older paintings may have additional canvases at the back designed to protect and conserve them. The relining practice became common in the 19th century. Therefore, relined paintings could be older than they look.
So, examine the canvas closely to see if there are two or more layers. You can know this by looking at the strainer/stretcher bars. The painting is relined if they appear to be rescued from the originals. Similarly, relining flattens all the raised paint.
( Above Photo: Antique English Oil Painting Medieval Renaissance Country Fayre Scene )
Stretcher bar design has experienced tremendous transformation in the last century. Therefore, checking these out can give you a clue as to whether or not you’re dealing with an antique painting.
What should you look for? Check how old the wood appears. If it has any old hand-wrought nails, it’s old. Some older antique oil paintings even have handmade wood dowels.
After examining all the features at the back of the painting, go back to the front. Here you can find information authenticating or invalidating the integrity of the painting.
Most aged oil paintings may have finely-spaced cracks or craquelure. Examine it closely to ascertain if the craquelure appears natural or artificially induced. Some reproduction paintings might undergo artificial aging to make them pass as genuine antiques.
Spotting craquelure on heavily varnished paintings can be difficult, especially if the varnish has yellowed with time. But that doesn’t mean you should give up on trying to ascertain the authenticity of your paintings.
( Above Photo: Victorian Cherub Floral Still Life Oil Painting )
Commonly, old paintings will display raised paint. You can spot them by raising the canvas to look at the surface. However, for relined paintings, the surface can be completely flat. So, consider that.
If you’re unsure whether you have a modern print, use 10x magnification to look for dots on the surface. From the mid-20th-century, reproductions of old paintings were printed. So, they will likely have regularly-spaced dots. Older painting reproductions may also have irregularly spaced dots. In short, any paintings with dots are unlikely to be original antiques.
The Bottom Line
You can easily identify antique oil paintings by paying closer attention to the abovementioned features. Ideally, the panting should have at least two of the features. With that, you’ll only pay for a valuable painting. If you’re looking for antique paintings to buy, don’t hesitate to check out our showroom.
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