What kind of equipment do you need to tell if a painting is an original or a fake?


Telling the difference between an original and reproduction has always been a difficult task, even for professionals. Of course, people who have worked in the industry for several years have the experience to use certain tools and actually give a diagnosis on the matter. Others, however, who feel like they have been less inclined to give the subject some thought to, have little to nothing to say about the authenticity of a painting. Today, I’m going to try to tell you a bit about what I’ve learned while I was working at an art gallery.

Both the front and the back of the piece have something to say when it comes to assessing the age of a painting. You have to check for specks of dust, anything regarding the texture, as well as whether there’s a certain smell or a bit of dirt on and around the canvas. The surface of the latter can also give a pointer as to the moment it has been painted, in that with most old pieces you’ll notice a certain patina on the back of the canvas.

Another tip I can give you is to have a close look at the wood. Whether the piece was framed recently or not, you can tell by the looks of it if it’s an older work or a newer one. What’s more, you might need to examine the piece in close detail just so that you’re able to tell if there are any bristles on or in the paint on the canvas. Believe it or not, you’d fail to discover this exact detail if the painter was using high-quality brushes and a higher quality ganache or paint.

Finally, if you’re thinking of purchasing a painting using a website such as eBay or virtually any other online retailer that allows people to organize auctions, you need to be on the lookout just to make sure that you’re not getting cheated. If the value of the product is well beyond several hundred dollars, you might have to ask for the opinion of an art appraiser. If there is an art gallery in the area you work or live, perhaps you can go talk to a dealer. He or she will surely ask for several pictures in order to assess the authenticity of the piece at least at first glance. It goes without saying that, ideally, the appraiser would have to see, smell, and hold the painting in his or her hands in order to determine if it’s a fake or an original. Since this is sometimes impossible, the least thing you can do is talk to the seller and get some sort of authenticity proof.

This is all the advice I had for people buying paintings online.