I was in a local Brocante, amongst the dust and the mess, next to some shelves holding a higgildy piggildy mess of pictures chatting to my Pops when I spotted it out of the corner of my eye – an oil painting. I new straight away what it was, I could see the way the light caught the brushwork and like a fox on the scent I was straight over their to pick it up.
“How did you spot that from over there?” Pops said. I’d love to say it was some Brocante buyers instinct, but it wasn’t. Just luck I guess, but confirming it was an oil wasn’t, that took three simple steps.
Look At The Back
The foolproof way of telling if it’s an oil is to look at the back; if you can see the paint coming through the canvas then it’s an oil.
Look At The Back Too
Whilst you’re round there look at the frame itself. Some oils have a canvass wadding place over the painting, but the obvious age of the frame will be a tell if it’s a clever reproduction or not. This picture wasn’t a good example of that, but my oil in the header is.
Look At The Texture
A lot of reproductions now have a textured surface to make them appear as if they’re an oil, so to be sure you’ve managed to bag a bargain, have a look and see if there are clear brush marks that correspond with the paint marks themselves. A reprint will have a consistent pattern of marks, an oil won’t.
In this selection here I have three oils, and a definite watercolour. The most expensive was 43€, then 9€, then an unbelievable 1€. Which one do you think is which?