Is that a good painting

Painting guide | Recognize valuable paintings

Is it a print or a painting?

If the brushstrokes are clearly visible, it is very likely a real painting.

Art prints are not paintings. Depending on the age and type of manufacture, however, these can be just as valuable. First of all, it should therefore be clarified whether the picture is a reproduction, i.e. a print, or a painting. Art print has existed since 1796. If a picture looks old, it doesn’t mean that it is a painting. For this reason, you should first take a close look at the image surface. Paintings are always painted on canvas or on cardboard. Here you can always see, albeit fine, brushstrokes. The brushstrokes are usually easy to feel with the hand. In an emergency, you can carefully run your finger over the surface of the picture. It is more professional with a flashlight, which is placed at an angle on the screen and viewed from the side. If you can clearly see brushstrokes, it is almost certainly a painting.

Famous artist?

Here the signature is clearly visible in the lower corner of the painting.

Another very important point is the artist of the painting. The better known the artist, the more valuable the painting is. Signatures are often found on paintings, for example in one of the two lower corners of the picture. The signature can be used to identify who is the author of the painting. If a signature can be seen on the left or right of the picture, this is first of all a good reference point for determining the value. In rare cases, signatures can also be found on the back of the picture. You can then find out whether the signature can be assigned to an artist, for example with a Google search.

Tip: Take a picture of a painting or signature and use the Google image search to search for similar images.

Is there a certificate of authenticity?

Copies or forgeries are often in circulation. Therefore, certificates of authenticity are sometimes issued to prove that the painting is not a copy or a fake. As a rule, this may only be exhibited by the artist himself. But certificates can also be forged. Caution is therefore advised here. Today, in particular, you can buy many paintings online and come across forgeries. If there is a certificate of authenticity, this is initially a good sign and a painting with a certificate can often be sold a little better.

Is the painting rare?

Demand determines the value of a rare painting. It is hard to believe but many rare paintings are forever hidden from the public as there is no interest in them. It is the same with the price. If nobody wants the picture, the price won't be too high either. However, if there is a high demand for paintings by one or the other artist or for paintings that have a certain subject or belong to a certain era, the price can quickly rise into the millions. If a popular collector's item disappears over time and reappears after a while, the value of the painting can have risen considerably, especially if demand has also increased.

Is the subject (picture subject) appealing?

A forest landscape as an appealing subject.

As is well known, whether you like art or not is in the eye of the beholder. The so-called subject is, however, an important point of reference when determining the value. Especially with unknown artists, the courtesy of the motif is crucial. A beautiful portrait of a woman or a nude, for example, can be sold much better than a dreary winter landscape. Still lifes with flowers and sacred art are also sought after by collectors and art lovers and are therefore more valuable. Basically: If the artist is less known, the motif decides the value. A consideration from today's perspective is also relevant for determining the value. Is the motif still modern and would you hang it in your own apartment? If you can answer this question with yes, this usually speaks for good saleability and a correspondingly higher value. But be careful, to get back to the beginning of this paragraph - art is always in the eye of the beholder. Just because a painting does not suit your personal taste shouldn't be copied straight away and it should therefore be left to an expert to determine the exact value.

Collector's item or mass-produced item?

Collectibles are popular; as the name suggests, collectibles are bought by collectors. And they are usually willing to pay a high price to add a rare piece to their collection. For this reason, collectibles depend a lot on the price of “non-collectibles”. The price is determined less by the value itself, but more by a specific motif or the popularity of an artist. If many people want a certain picture, the one who offers the better price always wins. Whether a painting becomes a collector's item is always decided by the law of supply and demand. If the painting is also rare, i.e. the offer is limited, it becomes all the more interesting for collectors and therefore all the more valuable.

Is the condition good?

In addition to the criteria already mentioned, the condition of an image also plays an important role and also affects its value. The poorer it is, the lower the price, as the dealer has to plan a restoration after the sale. Even if the painting is a popular collector's item or in great demand for other reasons, the value is always reduced by damage to the motif or frame. Heavy soiling and minor damage can usually be restored by specialists. Severe damage such as cracks or flaking paint usually reduce the value significantly, as they can only be restored with a lot of effort. The typical craquelé pattern (cracks on the color surface in oil paintings) does not necessarily have to reduce the value, as it is almost a matter of course in very old oil paintings and is a good indication of the age of the picture.

Consult experts or sell yourself?

The mentioned clues can help to roughly estimate works of art in terms of their value. However, this only means that you can now roughly determine whether the respective picture is actually a real painting, a print or something similar. In order to know 100% whether it is a fake or an original and who could be the real author of the picture, you almost always have to ask a specialist.

If you have inherited a painting and you suspect that it is a real painting that could actually be of great value, you should consult an independent art expert. Because unmasking a fake becomes more and more difficult over time, even experts sometimes fall for it.

Independent art agencies work for low commissions and help to examine the work for its value. Before contacting such institutions, one can take a picture of the painting and search for similar images using the Google image search. To do this, go to the Google Images page and upload your own photo. The search engine then searches for similar images. It may be possible to find out the artist, etc. via this function.

Tip: Independent art agencies help to examine the work for its value.

Has the painting been restored?

Be it oil paintings, abstract art, acrylic paintings and others, the authenticity of a picture can be determined by the original condition. A painting that is as little worn as possible will fetch a great price. The canvas should neither be trimmed nor have a replaced stretcher frame, i.e. the stretcher frame should be as original as possible. Damage to restorations should also be as invisible as possible. With some types of art, however, it is difficult to tell where the painting is damaged or has been restored. This includes, for example, abstract painting, i.e. modern paintings.

In particular, abstract acrylic paintings and modern paintings, as well as abstract paintings, are very difficult to assess. So if you want to determine the value of a painting yourself, you should take a close look at the painting. The original condition of a painting is crucial here. This means that it is only on the basis of the original condition of the painting that it is possible to determine how the picture has changed over time. In this case you should have a sound knowledge of the creative process and the various painting techniques. The structure and painting techniques can change depending on the century. For example, if the painter worked with an artificial patina, this can very quickly be viewed by a layperson as an aging process. For this reason, the motto here is: look carefully!

Tip: A black light lamp can be used to tell whether a painting has been restored. Dark areas then reveal image corrections and imperfections.

Is a restoration worthwhile?

Paintings are almost always unique and collector's items that should not be tampered with unnecessarily. In order to preserve this as long as possible, paintings must also be restored once in an emergency. If it looks like the painting is very badly damaged or soiled, it should even be restored in order to preserve it for posterity or its descendants for as long as possible. Light soiling of the canvas or small cracks on the picture frame can usually be repaired for relatively little money.

Whether a restoration is worthwhile depends on the one hand on the emotional value and on the other hand on the actual sales value. If a well-known artist is behind it, a restoration is almost always worthwhile. If you want to sell a valuable painting, restoration is often highly recommended. It is well known that art dealers are only human and a cleaned car is much easier to sell than an uncleaned one.

Recognize valuable paintings yourself - yes or no?

There is no clear answer to this question. A rough determination can be made with the help of your own observations and research. For example, it is often possible to determine to which artist the work is to be attributed, how many such works there are, to which epoch it is to be attributed, etc. However, detailed specifications such as damage or whether it is a forgery or a copy can only be determined by experts. In this case you should sit down with an art historian or a renowned auction house, for example.