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The Art of Forgery: How To Spot If A Painting Is Real or Fake

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You have set your eyes on what you think is a masterpiece and are open to paying a price for it as being asked. Sounds good. But what if the painting isn't original? Most people tend to doubt something cheap, simply because its cheap, but don't bother investigating enough about expensive things. The thought usually is, expensive means original or valuable. Sorry to break your bubble, but this isn't entirely true. In a recent article on the CNBC, it was stated - Some fake paintings have been so convincing, they have made it all the way into auctions at Christie's and Sotheby's auction houses!

Mark Landis, one of the most prolific art forgers in US history was able to get his fakes piece of art in over 46 top museums in 20 US states.

You can then imagine how serious the matter is, right? Imagine spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a piece of art and getting duped. For this reason, it is crucial to perform due diligence and ascertain that the painting you are buying is real and by the original artist. Read more on how you can spot a counterfeit painting.

1. Read and research

If you are a connoisseur of art, you most certainly would want to invest in a painting that is produced by a famous artist. Right? Check on the work done by this artist in the past. You will notice his trademark style. Now check on the painting you are about to buy. Is it fit to be a part of the artist's series? Is there a surprise element? If yes, be cautious. It could just be an ordinary painting being passed off as one created by a well-known artist.


2. Signature
Check the signature. Check the placement of the signature and its style. Now try and access the other works of the same artist. Is the signature placement consistent? Does the one you have look different? Is it placed at another position in the painting than his/her other works? If yes, just let go off your decision to buy the painting. Not worth your money and time!

You will notice that majority of the artists usually sign in colours that match with the colours of the art. A mismatch should be a signal for you to doubt its authenticity. Similarly, a lot many artists date their work and at times mention the location as well. Check on the past work on the artist and study the pattern. Any deviation needs to be well looked into.


3. Brush Bristles
A cheap replica will speak for itself. Take a closer look at the painting. You will notice the brush bristles stuck on to it. This is one of the most common ways to check on the authenticity of the painting. An original piece of art will not have any traces of brush bristles for you to see.


4. Old is Gold
When it comes to a painting, it most certainly is. The oldness of the frame, the canvas, the paint...all of them shall speak to you. If it is a new painting, you will be able to smell the freshness of the paint. An old painting has its own charm. Its withering speaks for its authenticity. The framing is done in lieu with the subject. You will not find an odd combination. Check for these subtle signs.

Try going to a museum and check on the old paintings there. Meet with the staff there and request them to show you what are the prerequisites of an old painting. You should be able to pick up some valuable information from there to judge on the authenticity of the work you have with you.


5. Check on the layering
An original piece of art will have quite a few layerings that would be visible to you with naked eyes. A fake one just fails to show a depth. You should be able to notice the difference. Check on the paints. If it is an old painting, make sure you have an idea on the paints used. In the yesteryears not many options were available.


6. Get the Painting Appraised

If there is a lot of money involved then don't settle on options that help you judge the work yourself. Get an expert to do the needful. But make sure that the appraiser you get in touch with is certified to do so.


7. Identify printed art with these easy steps

A magnifying glass should come handy here. A printed piece of art has its own characteristics. You can hold the painting up to the light and look at it from the back. If it is a real painting, you should be able to see light coming through the back of the canvas. But if it is a printed copy, this isn't the case. Why do we say that in an original piece, you would be able to see the light passing through? That is because, artists use varying degrees of impasto (heaviness of paint in certain areas). In an authentic painting you would be able to notice the brushstrokes and these vary in size and texture. Perfection can only be achieved if it's a print.

Imposters are a disappointment and yes, they are detrimental as well. Imagine spending a fortune on buying a painting that doesn't turn out to be original. Make sure you do take in some expert advice if the above doesn't convince you about the authenticity of the painting you are planning to invest in.

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