How to Distinguish Original Art from a Fake Copy When Buying Art Online

By BusyFox Jun14,2024
original artwork


Buying art online has become increasingly popular, offering convenience and access to a global marketplace. However, the rise of online art sales also brings the risk of encountering fake or counterfeit artworks. Knowing how to distinguish original art from fake copies is crucial for any art collector or enthusiast. This article provides essential tips and techniques to help you ensure the authenticity of your art purchases.

1. Research the Artist and Their Work

Know the Artist’s Style and Techniques

Understanding the distinctive style and techniques of the artist you are interested in can help you identify potential fakes. Familiarize yourself with their typical color palette, brushstrokes, and subject matter.

  • Tip: Compare the piece you are considering with verified works by the same artist. Look for consistency in style and technique.

Study the Artist’s Signature

Artists often have unique ways of signing their work. Study the signature’s style, placement, and any variations over the artist’s career.


  • Use online databases or resources to view examples of the artist’s signature across different periods of their career.
  • Buy art directly from artist, when possible

2. Verify Provenance and Documentation

Check Provenance Records

Provenance refers to the history of ownership of an artwork. Authentic pieces often come with detailed provenance records, tracing their journey from the artist to the current owner.

  • Tip: Request provenance documentation from the seller. Be wary of artworks with unclear or missing provenance.

Look for Certificates of Authenticity

A Certificate of Authenticity (COA) is a document provided by the artist or a reputable authority that verifies the artwork’s authenticity.

  • Tip: Ensure the COA is from a reliable source, such as the artist, their estate, or a recognized art expert.

3. Examine the Artwork’s Physical Characteristics

Inspect the Materials and Medium

Original artworks are created using specific materials and mediums. Knowing what materials the artist typically uses can help you identify fakes.

  • Tip: If possible, request high-resolution images or videos of the artwork to examine the materials closely. Look for signs of age, such as craquelure (fine cracks in the paint) in older paintings.

Analyze Brushstrokes and Texture

Original paintings have unique brushstrokes and texture that can be difficult to replicate.

  • Tip: Look for irregularities and variations in the brushstrokes. Fakes may have uniform or mechanical-looking brushstrokes.

4. Utilize Technological Tools

Use Digital Image Analysis

Technology can assist in identifying fake artworks. Digital image analysis can compare the artwork to known originals and detect inconsistencies.

  • Tip: Use software or online tools that provide image analysis services, comparing the piece to a database of verified works.

Employ Ultraviolet (UV) Light

UV light can reveal details not visible to the naked eye, such as repairs, overpainting, and signatures added later.

  • Tip: If you have access to the artwork, use a UV light to inspect it. Some online sellers may provide UV light examination reports.

5. Consult Experts and Reputable Dealers

Seek Expert Opinions

Art experts and appraisers have the knowledge and experience to identify genuine works. They can provide valuable insights and authentication services.

  • Tip: Consult experts who specialize in the artist or period of the artwork you are considering.

Buy from Reputable Dealers and Platforms

Purchasing from well-known and respected dealers or online art selling platform can reduce the risk of buying fake art.

  • Tip: Research the reputation and reviews of the dealer or platform. Look for those with strong buyer protection policies and guarantees of authenticity.

6. Be Cautious of Deals That Seem Too Good to Be True

Assess the Price

While it’s possible to find good deals, significantly underpriced artworks can be a red flag.

  • Tip: Compare the price with similar works by the same artist. If the deal seems too good to be true, proceed with caution.

Look for Red Flags

Beware of sellers who are unwilling to provide detailed information, high-quality images, or provenance documents.

  • Tip: Trust your instincts and walk away from transactions that raise suspicion or doubt.


Distinguishing original art from fake copies when buying online requires a combination of research, careful examination, and expert consultation. By understanding the artist’s work, verifying provenance, utilizing technological tools, and buying from reputable sources, you can make informed decisions and confidently build your art collection. Remember, due diligence is key to ensuring the authenticity of your art purchases and protecting your investment in the vibrant world of art.

By BusyFox

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