Everything You Should Know About Buying Vintage Art Online

corner with Eames chair and art on the wall

Becca Interiors

Alisa Bovino started A Glass of Bovino in 2017 when she and her husband, Angelo, moved into their first home in the suburbs of Northern New Jersey “without a single piece of furniture and no concept of how to create a home,” she recalls. She turned to binging DIY videos on YouTube, became hooked on Facebook Marketplace, and painted every room (more than once). She finally landed on her personal style, which she characterizes as a marriage between post-modern traditional and grandmillenial, and helps others get luxe for less through her posts. 

While she loves searching for new finds (she’s currently redoing her primary bedroom), vintage art is one of her passions. Her first piece was an early 1900s antique landscape painting of the Hudson River in the fall. “My husband and I enjoy spending time there during the autumn, so it has special meaning to me,” she says. She currently owns about 10 pieces and is continuously swapping them out. 

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When it comes to sourcing, she is a big fan of eBay. “I realized eBay is a treasure trove for all things a few years ago and have since become addicted to finding beautiful vintage and antique art,” she says. Start by typing search terms like antique oil painting, antique landscape, antique floral, antique pastoral, 19th century painting, and antique oil painting framed. When you find something that aligns with your style, remember to save your search so algorithms show pieces that you’d be most interested in.

While pricing does vary based on the type of art you’re looking for, the size, period, artist and condition, it all comes down to your budget and how much the art speaks to you. “A vintage 1980s floral oil painting could be worth less than a 1920s floral oil painting because it’s newer, but if the 80s painting was done by a well-known artist, it could be worth more,” she says. 

Reproductions often have dots that are supposed to mimic the look of original artwork, while some antique oil paintings have something called craquelure, which is a web of fine cracks on the canvas

Curious if something is truly antique or a reproduction? Bovino says there are a few ways to tell. “I’m not a historian, but here’s how I figure out if an antique painting is authentic,” she says. Reproductions may be labeled as reproductions but sometimes they are not. Ask the seller for more photos, zoom in and look for small dots on the canvas.

“Reproductions often have dots that are supposed to mimic the look of original artwork, while some antique oil paintings have something called craquelure, which is a web of fine cracks on the canvas,” she says. In general, darker means something is older as canvas paintings patina over time. An older wooden frame is also another telltale sign of age.

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