Tips for Those Who Wish to Acquire an Authentic Painting


The collector must be well-informed, attentive, careful, and master their artwork flair. They should visit art museums and exhibitions, noticing the individuality of each artist's style and their peculiarities. The general approach to buying a genuine masterpiece has remained unchanged for many years - trusting and checking. So let's start with the basics:

  • When buying a painting by a famous artist, you need to trust the art dealer or art gallery staff, but check the certificate of authenticity. To do this, make inquiries and check an art salon’s reputation or intermediary offering a painting for sale.
  • Suppose we are talking about buying a painting by old masters, up to the beginning of the twentieth century. In that case, it is important to see the document on the examination and prepare a certificate.

Expertise is the establishment of the authenticity of a work of art. Comprehensive professional expertise includes technological and stylistic studies. Based on these studies, carried out in special laboratories, an expert art critic draws up an expert opinion. The document indicates the result of checking the painting in ultraviolet and infrared rays, which shows the late recording of the painting, the intervention of the restorers, and what is very important is whether the signature was rewritten. Chemical analysis is carried out with samples of the paint layer, soil, and canvas. Based on the results of these studies, the time of painting is established. Stylistic expertise establishes attribution to authorship. At this research stage, the peculiarities of the author's style, the manner of execution, characteristics of the given period of the artist's work are determined. Here we are talking about the plot, composition, and color scheme inherent in this artist. 

What to Look for When Buying Artwork?

What to Look for When Buying Artwork

A meticulous buyer who wants to buy a nice little thing for interior decoration and wants to buy a painting, not cardboard, can pay attention to some details of the work being sold and identify a modern fake.

  • Take a close look at the canvas first. In a printed painting, the edges of the canvas will be neatly finished with a layer of paint, while the artist, creating their masterpiece, never think about how the edges of the canvas stretched over a stretcher will look.
  • On prints, the paint layer is quite smooth and uniform. In paintings in oils, it never appears like this. Individual strokes are visible, the canvas in some places may shine through; in others, the paint will thickly cover the surface.
  • Pay special attention to the signature on the artwork; take a good look under a magnifying glass. It can be painted with a layer of painting or ground, it can be scratched, and in no case should it give the impression of being completed later.
  • A bit weird, but trust your intuition when communicating with a salesperson. Suppose in the story of a business of art employee or an art dealer you feel uncertainty, falsity, excessive or feigned enthusiasm about the artistic qualities of the picture, and another connoisseur of art is about to buy the work. In that case, you must urgently make a decision, do not rush to purchase. Consider asking an expert for advice.
  • The biography of the painting with all its owners is of great importance for determining the authenticity of a painting. As well, it is important to know who owed and what collections it has belonged to. 

Suppose such information is available, and its previous owners are well-known collectors or recognized connoisseurs of painting in the art world. In that case, this can also serve as confirmation of its authenticity. 

Information about work at art exhibitions or selling at a well-known auction also indirectly serves as a confirmation of its authenticity. On the reverse side of the picture, a corresponding label is glued, which indicates:

  • the name of the exhibition;
  • the year of its holding; 
  • the artist's name; 
  • the name of the work;
  • its size;
  • and technique of execution.

 The mention of the painting in books, memoirs, and the inscriptions of the relatives of the artists, confirming the authorship, also speaks in favor of the authenticity of this work. But it is very important to have a certificate of authenticity for the painting.

  • If you buy an old painting, pay attention to the craquelure, thin cracks formed on the painted surface; they speak of its venerable age. However, with the help of glue and high temperature, there are such craftsmen who can mechanically age the picture, creating an artificial craquelure. In this case, we are talking about the forging works of very famous artists.
  • If you buy a painting by a contemporary artist, there may be fakes in the form of printed paintings. Modern technology works wonders and, for example, is almost indistinguishable from the original copies, printed on a 3D printer, are numbered and produced in a limited edition, and are marked accordingly. There are options and simpler high-quality printing with painting. Typically, such paintings can be seen for sale on the city’s streets and in large shopping centers and modern art galleries. To prepare a certificate for pictures is, of course, impossible.

What is a Certificate of Authenticity?

What is a Certificate of Authenticity

A certificate of authenticity is a document that the artist prepares and signs with their signature; it contains the parameters of the painting and various data.

The certificate fixes the artist's copyright and the author's right to photograph their painting, which is especially important when selling reproductions of a work of art. It is passed from one owner of the painting to the next when the painting is resold.

The author of the work issues the certificate of authenticity. It significantly raises the value of a work of art or reproduction. The certificates of authenticity for the painting are certified by the artist's autograph and sometimes by their personal seal. The signature itself is often valuable and collectible.

Each document contains complete information about the painting, including:

  • photo painting
  • title
  • materials
  • dimensions
  • year
  • country and place of creation.

If any, the number of copyright copies is also indicated, and if reproductions were printed from the picture, then the number of reproductions issued is also indicated.

Each certificate of authenticity contains the author's full name and contact information.

Each Certificate of Authenticity must be sequentially numbered and uniquely numbered.

Certificates of authenticity for a work of art are sometimes called the French word provenance. In art, this term is used to preserve information about the history of ownership of a painting and means a source proving the origin of an object. If the painting is sold for the first time, then provenance acts as a certificate of quality. A Certificate of Authenticity is needed if the work is being bought as a gift or planned to be resold later. Provenance over time will not only raise the investment value of the painting but will also become a confirmation of its authenticity and originality.


  • Where can I get a certificate of authenticity for a painting?

The Certificate of Authenticity, as a printed product, can be ordered from the printing house (if it does not contain a photo of the painting being sold).

  • Why do you need a certificate of authenticity for a painting?

A certificate of authenticity is passed from buyer to buyer of the painting. It fixes the artist's copyright and the author's right to photographs of their painting, which is especially important when selling reproductions of a work of art. The author of the work issues the certificate of authenticity.

  • Who owns the copyright for the paintings?

The copyright of the original painting belongs only to the artist.

  • Are oil paintings more valuable than acrylic?

Paintings in oil are more valuable due to the chemical peculiarities of paints; paintings in oil preserve better and can remain vivid for centuries.

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