How to Tell a Reproduction from an Original Painting: Art Authentication

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Authentication Art

Art authentication is important for any collector. Just like with antique furniture, reproduction paintings are USUALLY more commonplace than the highly coveted original pieces they’re based off of. Different from an original print, in which the artist creates a master image and prints the copy himself, a reproduction is a work that is created using the same medium as the first painting or piece was – and is done by someone other than the original artist.

There are a variety of techniques used in the art industry to authenticate paintings – from advanced technology like high-resolution multispectral cameras to brushstroke analysis, and more. In order to truly verify a painting’s attribution, it should be evaluated by a group of qualified authorities, who work in conjunction with one another to determine a painting’s creator. Often, there is an estate of the family of the artist or a foundation for an artist that is used as the sole authority for verifying authenticity. In other instances, it could be an expert, who in some instances, is engaged in creating a catlogue raisonne for a particular artist. Experts involved might include art scholars, signature analysts, and scientists capable of identifying matters like the age of both the canvas and paint in question. Points of investigation in authenticating that a piece of art is an original and not a reproduction might include:

– Samples of paint pigment to determine whether material used was available at the time the artist was painting.

– X-Rays and infrared technology applied to show evidence of drawings made by the artist as a guide underneath the painting.

– Scrutiny of signature placement and comparison with other signatures from the artist on both artwork and personal papers.

– Comparison of historical elements in the painting with those expected during the period it was supposedly produced, including clothing and architecture.

– Insights on whether the style and technique corresponds with the artist or period it is being attributed to.

If you’re not yet at the phase in which hiring an authenticator seems appropriate but want to begin to determine the credibility of a piece of art, here’s a few tips that anyone can follow:

– Use a magnifying glass or bright light to look for dot matrix patterns used as guides and hidden underneath paint.

– Pay attention to the quality of the material the piece is painted on – original paintings are usually produced on thick canvas, Masonite panels, or wood.

– Check for copyright information on the reverse of the painting – most original paintings don’t include any copyright marks.

Kenny Ackerman is an Art Dealer in New York, specializing in Fine Art Paintings from 19th-21st century Europe and America. To buy or sell original paintings by artists we represent, contact Ackerman’s Fine Art here.

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