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Doing some research and getting your hands on documents that provide information about the painting or its earliest owners is clearly a good step in assessing if the painting you have or are looking to buy is an original or an art reproduction. Having information about how your painting was made and the historical and artistic context in which it was created will really be able to help you.
If you look at your painting, try and think: “Is the appearance, texture and pattern consistent with the artwork’s proposed age”? The back and sides of a painting are also good sources of information and can tell professionals about dating and provenance and even geographic origin of the painting in question. Scientific techniques such as X-radiography and infrared radiation can also help.
Having knowledge of historic techniques is also very helpful in discerning whether you have an original painting or an art reproduction. For example, with Renaissance paintings the majority were painted on panels. So knowing that before the 18th century, wood panels used for painting were finished by hand (the backs of the paintings can still exhibit traces of tools that were used to work the wood), as opposed to after the 18th century when machine sawn panels were used; already gives you an indication of when the painting was produced.
Most canvases and panels used for painting were prepared by specialist craftsmen as opposed to the actual artist and occasionally have labels or markings that identify the maker. To give you an example, wood panels produced in Brussels were frequently branded with the mark of the panel maker and city’s insignia, which can help you verify geographic origin and a rough date.
In any given era, artists have a common range of pigments at their disposal. And it is the method of using these pigments mixtures and applying paint that experts can observe differences between periods within the era . A coloured ground in your painting can determine your painting’s approximate date – If you think you have a have a fifteenth century painting for example, experts could tell if a pigment in it was a 21st century synthetic pigment and therefore it’s a pretty straight forward way to detect whether your painting is an original or art reproduction.
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