How to tell if a canvas painting is original?

By Mandy Moss

Do you know there is a lot of fake canvas paintings on the market? There’re many printed or reproduced artworks available for sale at your disposal, but only an art lover or an expert can discover them. 

How to tell if a canvas painting is original?

Let’s discover some tips to know if painting is original.

How to know if my canvas Painting Is Original?

It’s not always easy to discover if your painting is original or not. Especially if you’re new to this world. However, to help you out, there are some useful tips bro follow and spot fake or reproduction.

1. Read and do Deep Research 

Before you buy your choice of painting, the first thing to do is to read and conduct deep and extensive research. Preferably, on your choice of the artist.

This is essential because you will full knowledge of the artist’s style and preventing you from buying a fake copy.

Try to check and master the materials artist uses to produce his painting. You can also advance your research by mastering the position and styles of his signature.

2. Visit Museums, Gallery and other Places

You may also want to visit museums and galleries to check and gather more knowledge about work of art.

Study the patinas of the artwork and check the kind of nails and hangers are used to couple the frame.  

You can try to ask the museum workers some relevant questions, including showing you the back of the old artworks from the same artist.


You can try to ask the museum workers some relevant questions to confirm your painting is original

3. Check Layers of the Painting 

Checking Layers is an important step art appraiser in the auction house will always spend quite a bit of time on.

You can do this by feeling the texture and brightness of the art color. You can also conduct a thread count analysis on the canvas. This will measure the density of threads they use to weave it. In some cases, it can be done using a magnifying glass

4. Brushstrokes

Some artists are famous for their unique paintbrush movements which are extremely hard to copy. Make extensive research about this topic and see if your artist uses some unique movements.

5. Check for Odor

Smell your art or paint on it. For new artworks, the odor is always very sharp; while the smell of the old paintings is lesser.  

6. Invite an Expert

After you have done your due diligence, invite a third party (an expert) to review the painting. An expert should not be a dealer or broker but has a valid certificate from any of the Professional Art Appraisers associations.

7. Check for Signature

Different artists have different locations to paint their signature on. Check if the position of the signature and style is the same as the one you’ve researched.  Image below shows famous Henri Matisse signature.

8. Recheck everything again

To crown it all, check and recheck. Make sure you check and compare all the pieces of information you’ve learned with what you see in the artwork. If there’s any alteration, your art is most certainly not original.

Auction Houses will back off with even slight doubt. Some fine art or oil painting can cost a fortune so their due diligence must be precise and correct.

How to Authenticate a Piece of art and How much does it cost?

Before you can buy a painting, it’s advisable to check its authenticity. This is necessary as it’ll save you from spending a ton of money on a fake piece of art. 

How to Authenticate a Piece of art and How much does it cost?

So tips to keep in mind:

  1. Obtain a Certificate of Authenticity from the artist if you are planning to buy it directly from him or her.  
  2. Buy the artwork from a qualified authority with a great reputation such as famous art auctions, brokers, or galleries.
  3. If you’re buying from the secondary market be extra cautious.
  4. Check if the provenance of the work is detailed and complete. Look at the history of all documents present. They should include pieces of information such as title, the date the art was made, its dimensions, mediums, etc….. Also, the painting must be traced/ linked to the artist itself. 
  5. You may also like to Check for Forensics analysis.

The Cost of Authenticating a Painting?

There’s no direct answer to this and it depends on which artist and how valuable the Painting needs to be authenticated.

Also, the price will vary a lot depending on the authority of the person or company authenticating your work.

It’s not the same if some no-name Artist experts or famous auction house has authenticated your piece of art.

In general, prepare to spend anywhere from a few hundred dollars up to several thousand dollars for a genuine authentication. 

Differences between Painting and a Print

Paintings are pigments, either Acrylic, watercolor, oil paintings, or others used to inscribe an image on a surface. This could be canvas, metal, paper surface, and so on.

On the other hand, a print is a generic term used to describe any reproduced format of any original work. It’s regarded as fake in the world of art.

Let’s highlight some differences between Painting and a Print.

Lighting Effect

Lighting Effect is great feature so spot fake from original. Try this simple process:

Lit a light and hold a painting near it. If the artwork is original, there’ll be variation in the color of the canvas when you check it from the back. 

But if it’s printing, the color distribution will be evenly distributed (i.e, it’ll be uniform). 

Brushing Effect 

Another major difference between a canvas painting and a printed copy is the presence of bristles. On an original painting, you’ll find a brushstroke. This is due to the presence of scumbling and heavy impasto that the artist made during painting. 

Contrarily, you won’t find this on a fake copy. Even, if you find any, it won’t be uniform.


Talking of layering, most original piece of art has few layers that can be easily seen with bare eyes. But these are mostly not found on a fake printing. 

Art pattern 

If I’m asked to pick a distinctive feature that can differentiate a painting from a printed copy, I’ll pick the pattern of the artwork.

Most artists have their preferred patterns. Some use the color of their artwork to do inscriptions, including the signature and even date of their work.

Some may also mention the location of the artwork.

Most printed copies doesn’t always take this in to consideration.

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