An old oil painting of a lady closeup eyes

How do you know if a Painting is Original? (8 Things to Check)

It’s a question that has plagued artists, art collectors, and art lovers for centuries. How do you know if a painting is original? Is it the style? The brushstrokes? The materials used? The signature? There are several factors to consider, and often it cannot be easy to tell.

We’ll explore some of the ways to determine whether it is original or not. We’ll also look at the difference between an original painting and fake paintings that lead to alleged forgeries. You may be surprised by what you find! So read on to learn more about determining if the artwork is original.

How do you know if a Painting is Original?

When looking at a painting, it can be challenging to determine if it is an original or a reproduction. Sometimes the difference is clear, but other times it can be more subtle. There are a few things that you can look for to help you determine if it is original or not.

The Historical or Archival Reference

The best way to find out the originality of a painting is to check the historical or archival references. It provides information about the artist, the artwork, and where it was created.

If the Painting you’re interested in doesn’t have a historical or archival reference, you may need to check other means to conclude. Suppose there is any reference in history or some information is available in a gallery or elsewhere. In that case, this can be an excellent way to find out the originality of the Painting.

Also, check if this work of art has been registered with any art databases. If it hasn’t, there’s a good chance it’s not an original.

Artist’s Subject Matter

Examining the subject matter is one way to determine if a painting is original. There are likely many copies if the original is of a popular subject, like a landscape or a flower. But if the picture is of a unique subject, it’s more likely to be original.

If the artwork is of a famous person or event, there would likely be documentation of the Painting’s existence if it were genuinely original. And we can also refer to the other artworks created by the artist to examine if the artist has previously created paintings with similar subjects.

The Artist’s Style

Most artists have a consistent style across their body of work. For example, if an artist is realistically known for creating landscapes, a work that appears in a different style may not be original.

Every artist has their unique way of Painting, from how they mix colors to the brushstrokes they use. When you’re familiar with an artist’s style, it’s easy to tell if a painting imitates their work or if it’s the real deal.

If you’re starting to build your art collection, familiarizing yourself with an artist’s style is a great way to ensure you only purchase genuine artwork.

Check the Backside of the Canvas, Frame, or Hidden Information

One way to check is to look at the backside of the canvas, frame, or other hidden areas of the piece. Fakes often have little information about the artist, title, or work date.

Real paintings will usually have at least some of this information listed. You can check the wood or frame to find the age of the picture. There should be oxidization or cracks on an old frame, which is not the case for a new one.

If the painting is on paper, you can check the watermarks to see if it’s from the same period as when the artist was active.

Use your Senses to Check the Painting

It helps if you also use your eyes, nose, and ears to understand whether the Painting is original. Look at the overall appearance of the picture.

Examine the colors:

The quality of the process is to look for clues on whether a painting is original or a reproduction. An original painting will usually have more brushstrokes than a reproduction. Original paintings often have bold and vibrant colors, while fake pictures may have more muted or washed-out colors.

In a genuine piece, the art colors blend seamlessly. In a fake, the colors will be harsher, and fewer will appear. A legitimate item will also have hundreds of colors, while a fake will only have a few.

Look at the texture:

Real paintings often have a textured surface, while fake paintings may be smoother.

Feel the weight of the Painting:

Heavier paintings are often more substantial and of better quality than lighter ones. This is because they use more paint, making them thicker and heavier.

Smell the Painting:

The smell of the paint can also be an indicator of quality. The stronger the paint smells, the more likely it is to be an original painting.

Check the Signature and Date

When determining if a painting is original, checking for a signature and date from the artist is a crucial piece of evidence. With well-known artists, fakes are often easy to spot because the signature will be incorrect or missing altogether.

However, it can be difficult for lesser-known artists to tell if the signature is genuine. In this case, it is essential to consult with an expert who can compare the signature to other examples of the artist’s work.

The date is also essential, as it can help to narrow down when the Painting was created. For instance, if the date on the artwork does not match up with the period during which the artist was active, the art piece is likely fake.

Considering these factors, you can help ensure you purchase a genuine piece of art.

Check for an Authenticity Certificate

One another way to look for the originality of a painting is to look for an authenticity certificate. The artist, an art news organization, or a gallery owner usually issues these.

They verify if a quality process has been followed and that the piece is not a fake or perfect reproduction.

If the Painting does not have an authenticity certificate, this does not necessarily mean that it is not an original. However, it may be more difficult to confirm its authenticity.

Consult with an Expert

You can consult an expert, like an art appraiser or someone in the art news field. They would be able to tell you if the quality process and materials used to match what would be expected from the period of the piece.

If it’s an oil painting, they can also tell you if the number of colors used is appropriate. For instance, a landscape painting from the 1500s would likely use hundreds of colors, whereas a Basic Painting from the 1700s would use minimum color.

If you are not sure about the legitimacy of an item, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and think it’s a fake.

There are many fake items out there, and it’s not worth risking your hard-earned money on something that might not be a genuine version of the real thing.

What is an Original Painting?

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An “original painting” is typically created by the artist or under their direct supervision. The artist has absolute control over their vision and execution; an original painting reflects the artist’s internal creative process.

Several challenges can make it difficult to determine whether a painting is original. It can be challenging to tell if an image has been reproduced and even more difficult to determine if the artist had painted it themselves. This often results in disputes over the authenticity of specific paintings, which can be costly and time-consuming to resolve. Additionally, the “fake paintings” market is flourishing, as there is high demand for “original artworks.”

This creates challenges in identifying if the piece of artwork is genuinely original.

What is a Fake Painting?

A fake painting is a forgery of an original piece of art. A forger may try to sell a fake painting as an original, or they may create a new image based on a well-known artist’s style.

Fake paintings can be made by taking a photo of the original Painting and then printing it onto canvas or manually copying by artists. Some fake paintings are easy to spot because they are low quality, have single colors, or lack detail. Other fake images may be more difficult to distinguish from authentic paintings, especially if they are copies of detailed paintings by famous artists like Leonardo Da Vinci or Vincent van Gogh.

Fake artwork can be found in galleries, art shows, and private collections. Fake paintings fool many people because they are unfamiliar with the features of an authentic portrayal.

Difference between an Original Painting and Fake Painting

The following are the ten differences between an original and a Fake Painting.

SNo.ParticularsOriginal PaintingFake Painting
1No of Count AvailableOnly One-of-a-kind work will be available and created by the artist.Several Fake Paintings can be available at any point in time.
2SignatureAn Artist typically signs an original paintingA fake painting may or may not be signed, or a signature may be printed.
3DatedOriginal Paintings may usually be dated.A fake painting may or may not be dated.
4Value of the InvestmentOriginal artwork is an investment that appreciates over time.A fake artwork has no value as an investment.
5Effort and VisionOriginal Painting conveys the artist’s unique vision, style, and effort.A fake painting merely copies the artist’s artwork.
6Quality of the Art Materials UsedUsually high-quality materials.Usually, inferior art materials will quickly degrade.
7Long it can LastOriginal paintings usually last long, sometimes for generations.Fake artwork will quickly degrade and will show its true color.
8PopularityCollectors and Museums seek out original paintings by well-established artists.Fake artworks have no value to collectors or museums.
9Artist CareerOriginal Artwork increases in value as an artist’s career develops.Fake artworks have no resale value and are unrelated to the artist’s career development.
10Prestige and PrideOriginal Paintings bring Prestige and Pride to their owner whenever it is seen.Fake Painting is a worthless imitation that can never bring the same level of enjoyment.
difference between the original Painting and fake Painting


It can be challenging to determine if a painting is original or fake, but you can make an informed decision by checking for certain things. By being aware of the differences between originals and fakes, you can protect yourself from purchasing a fraudulent painting.

Always ask questions and get expert advice to avoid becoming a victim of art fraud.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What should I do if I think I have an original painting?

    If you think you have an original painting, the best thing to do is to take it to an appraiser or art dealer for further evaluation. They will be able to tell you for sure if the Painting is original or not.

  2. What are a few things to look for when buying a print?

    When buying a print, you should ensure that it is original and not reproduction. It would help to look for the artist’s signature on the print to do this. You should also examine the print closely to see if it has been damaged. Finally, you should compare the art print with other works by the same artist to see if it is part of a series.

  3. I have a painting that I think might be original. How can I tell for sure?

    The simple way to tell if a painting is original is to take it to an appraiser or art dealer for further evaluation. They can tell you definitively if the Painting is original or not.

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