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Oil Painting

Oil painting is a type of paint which involves mixing crushed colour pigments usually with linseed oil, although poppy seed oil can also be used. The support on which it is painted must be covered with a primer beforehand so that the layer of paint can adhere to the support; an additional step which is crucial to the creative process and also means that it can be adapted to many types of surfaces.

It was during the Middle Ages that this technique first appeared and began to be develop in the Western world. The discovery of oil painting is often attributed to the Flemish painter, Jan Van Eyck who had been experimenting with various mixtures. With this new painting technique, his works benefited from new transparency effects and a new type of aesthetic was born. His approach was copied and later shared more widely by other primitive Flemish painters. Oil painting replaced the tempera technique, which uses egg as a binder.

Similarly, the wood on which artists painted was replaced by linen canvas, installed on a frame from the 15th century onwards and later placed on an easel. Although it was well-liked by painters, this medium had its drawbacks; its components were toxic and its preparation required a great amount of artisan savoir-faire in the studio. Despite this, it became closely linked to the visual arts and and was hugely popularised during the Renaissance thanks to the Venetian painters such as Titian, followed closely by the Flemish, including Rubens, before it reached the Netherlands who made it their own, with Rembrandt leading the way. The 19th and 20th centuries saw oil painting became the number one choice and the preferred medium for for modern times. The mixture no longer had to be prepared by artists in the studio; industrialisation had made things easier and the paint came pre-prepared, packaged in tubes. The tin tube was commercialised in France in 1840 and revolutionised the history of art by encouraging the Impressionists to take their brushes and paints outside and paint en plein air. It would slowly be overtaken by acrylic paint a century later which simplified things even further as it was dried faster.
An oil painting canvas also implies that the painter must respect the fat over lean principle, meaning that a colours with high oil content (fat) should be applied over layers of paint with lower oil content (lean) to ensure that the painting will last longer and to prevent cracking. Oil painting remains a widely used method and numerous artworks are still made using this technique.

Contemporary artists still master oil painting but sometimes avoid working with it in the same traditional ways of the 20th century. The canvas is often not prepared so that its texture can be seen under the layer of paint, as certain abstract painters have done. Jackson Pollock for example used oil painting but did not glaze his works. He didn't even truly paint his canvases as he used a dripping technique; by shaking his brush he created splashes of paint over the canvas…

On Artsper, explore contemporary paintings by well-known artists including Georges Terzian, Arman, Salvador Dali and Robert Combas.

Collector’s Guide: Collecting Paintings

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Our recommendations Sophie Petetin, Une course de folie, Painting

Sophie Petetin

Une course de folie, 2021
70 x 60 x 2.5 cm


Liora, Lumière, Painting


Lumière, 2021
50 x 50 x 4 cm


Antonino Puliafico, Riflessi di monti, Painting

Antonino Puliafico

Riflessi di monti, 2021
70 x 80 x 2 cm


Daniel Castan, July and blue sky, Painting

Daniel Castan

July and blue sky, 2021
120 x 120 x 3 cm


Laurent Bouro, Les arbres 1.9, Painting

Laurent Bouro

Les arbres 1.9, 2021
120 x 80 x 4 cm


Thérèse Bosc, Rêve II, Painting

Thérèse Bosc

Rêve II, 2021
80 x 80 cm


Françoise Dugourd-Caput, Objectif, Painting

Françoise Dugourd-Caput

Objectif, 2017
70 x 100 cm


Jérémie Iordanoff, Untitled 769, Painting

Jérémie Iordanoff

Untitled 769, 2021
60 x 81 cm


Xavier Albert Fiala, Phoebus, Painting

Xavier Albert Fiala

Phoebus, 1945
116 x 89 x 1 cm


Lucia Buccini, Jardin, potager et pommier, Painting

Lucia Buccini

Jardin, potager et pommier, 1995
45 x 55 x 3 cm


Georges Darel, Paysage animé en bord de Seine, Painting

Georges Darel

Paysage animé en bord de Seine, 1925
54 x 63 x 2 cm


Muriel Averos, Déferlante, Painting

Muriel Averos

Déferlante, 2021
60 x 73 cm


Jean-Yves Fremaux, Soleil pluie sur les petites rues de Montmartre, Painting

Jean-Yves Fremaux

Soleil pluie sur les petites rues de Montmartre, 2020
120 x 40 x 3 cm


Ralph Resch, River, Painting

Ralph Resch

River, 2021
100 x 81 x 2 cm


Brigitte Demange, Tigre Blanc, Painting

Brigitte Demange

Tigre Blanc, 2021
90 x 130 cm


Tommaso Fattovich, Bloom, Painting

Tommaso Fattovich

Bloom, 2021
152.4 x 122 cm


Luigi Surdi, Il Colosseo e la Domus Aura, Roma, Painting

Luigi Surdi

Il Colosseo e la Domus Aura, Roma, 1942
55 x 66.5 x 1 cm


Yasna Godovanik, Desert Becomes Heaven With You, Painting

Yasna Godovanik

Desert Becomes Heaven With You, 2021
100 x 70 x 2 cm

€725 €1,250

Marta Zawadzka, In the garden, Painting

Marta Zawadzka

In the garden, 2021
90 x 90 x 2 cm


MacAmnaub, Composition abstraite, Painting


Composition abstraite, 1990
130 x 97 x 2 cm


Edouard Jacques Dufeu, Vue d'une ville du Moyen-Orient, Painting

Edouard Jacques Dufeu

Vue d'une ville du Moyen-Orient, 1900
33.5 x 46 x 2 cm


Louis Rheiner, Paysage en montagne au bord du ruisseau, Painting

Louis Rheiner

Paysage en montagne au bord du ruisseau, 1900
30 x 43 x 2 cm


A. Augsburger, Paysage au bord du lac, Painting

A. Augsburger

Paysage au bord du lac, 1927
46 x 54 x 2 cm


Zena Blackwell, Untitled, Painting

Zena Blackwell

Untitled, 2021
25.4 x 25.4 x 2 cm


Olivier Messas, Liberté… (série: Expression libre), Painting

Olivier Messas

Liberté… (série: Expression libre), 2021
110 x 110 x 1 cm


Gérard Tisserand, Le Confort, Painting

Gérard Tisserand

Le Confort, 1964
91.5 x 73 x 2 cm


Renjie Gao, Portrait No.3, Painting

Renjie Gao

Portrait No.3, 2021
60 x 50 x 4 cm


Rafal Gadowski, Parrots 07, Painting

Rafal Gadowski

Parrots 07, 2021
120 x 120 x 2.5 cm


Maude Ovize, Murmures, Painting

Maude Ovize

Murmures, 2021
116 x 178 x 3 cm


Manu Muñoz, Celebrating Something, Painting

Manu Muñoz

Celebrating Something, 2021
120 x 160 x 4 cm


Julia Whitehead, Time and Place, Painting

Julia Whitehead

Time and Place, 2021
150 x 120 x 5 cm


Tiago Francez, Untitled, Painting

Tiago Francez

Untitled, 2013
95 x 70 x 5 cm


James Zamora, Snickers No. 6, Painting

James Zamora

Snickers No. 6, 2021
30.5 x 30.5 cm


Mónica Castanys, In town 2, Painting

Mónica Castanys

In town 2, 2021
50 x 50 x 5 cm


Serghei Ghetiu, Woman portrait with a rose, Painting

Serghei Ghetiu

Woman portrait with a rose, 2021
80 x 60 x 2 cm


Florence V. Henric, Exil, Painting

Florence V. Henric

Exil, 2021
40 x 40 x 2 cm


Joyce Fournier, Missing you, Painting

Joyce Fournier

Missing you, 2011
35.6 x 27.9 x 2.5 cm


Irene Mahon, Bulles, Painting

Irene Mahon

Bulles, 2021
50 x 61 x 1.5 cm


Bastien Ducourtioux, Space oddity, Painting

Bastien Ducourtioux

Space oddity, 2020
80 x 60 x 2 cm


Théo Le Franc, S06, Painting

Théo Le Franc

S06, 2021
30 x 30 x 2.5 cm


Patrick Cornée, Audrey Hepburn, vogue, simply sexy, Painting

Patrick Cornée

Audrey Hepburn, vogue, simply sexy, 2021
120 x 120 x 3 cm

€3,780 €4,200

Marc Dethier dit Moyo, Crépuscule incandescent, Painting

Marc Dethier dit Moyo

Crépuscule incandescent, 2021
50 x 60 x 2 cm


Marie France Garrigues, Rue Cortot, rus du Mont Cenis, Painting

Marie France Garrigues

Rue Cortot, rus du Mont Cenis, 2021
50 x 50 x 2 cm


Isabelle Fournet, Écume, Méditerranée, Painting

Isabelle Fournet

Écume, Méditerranée, 2021
80 x 100 x 4 cm


Gregory Malphurs, Bored of Directors 3, Painting

Gregory Malphurs

Bored of Directors 3, 2021
22.9 x 15.2 cm


Timothy Archer, Sous les draps de l'impératrice, Painting

Timothy Archer

Sous les draps de l'impératrice, 2017
150 x 136.5 x 0.1 cm


Elina Bilous, Pink Elephants, Painting

Elina Bilous

Pink Elephants, 2021
40 x 40 x 1.7 cm


Marie-Laure Souq, Le soleil des tuileries, Painting

Marie-Laure Souq

Le soleil des tuileries, 2021
40 x 30 x 2 cm


André Ferrand, Le bebe tigre, Painting

André Ferrand

Le bebe tigre, 2010
46 x 55 x 4 cm


Marc Chalme, Orage, Painting

Marc Chalme

Orage, 2019
35.6 x 26.7 cm


Helen Uter, Wee Saw, Painting

Helen Uter

Wee Saw, 2001
116 x 89 x 2.5 cm


Josette Dubost, Arches Marines, Painting

Josette Dubost

Arches Marines, 2012
80 x 80 x 4 cm


Svitlana Yetskalo, Tangerines, Painting

Svitlana Yetskalo

Tangerines, 2020
100 x 80 x 5 cm


Diana Malivani, Lemon Tree, Painting

Diana Malivani

Lemon Tree, 2021
120 x 150 x 4 cm


Jean-Marc Amigues, Sous bois, Painting

Jean-Marc Amigues

Sous bois, 2021
60 x 60 x 3 cm


Viktor Gutsul, Presence (Night church), Painting

Viktor Gutsul

Presence (Night church), 2019
100 x 70 x 2.5 cm


Lusine Abrahamyan, Vardavar Lake, Painting

Lusine Abrahamyan

Vardavar Lake, 2021
60 x 80 x 2 cm

€902 €1,100

Maria Perello, L'hora mágica, Painting

Maria Perello

L'hora mágica, 2021
90 x 110 cm


Iryna Yakovenko, Lotus 1, Painting

Iryna Yakovenko

Lotus 1, 2020
50 x 50 x 2.5 cm


Àlex Prunés, Petita casa-moll, Painting

Àlex Prunés

Petita casa-moll, 2021
30 x 40 cm


Félix Hemme, 649 Glyphe, Painting

Félix Hemme

649 Glyphe, 2021
72 x 93 x 3 cm


Ewa Hauton, Wings, Painting

Ewa Hauton

Wings, 2020
100 x 125 x 2 cm


Cristen Miller, Mt. Diablo View, Painting

Cristen Miller

Mt. Diablo View, 2019
40.6 x 50.8 cm


Jonathan Truss, Wish upon a star, Painting

Jonathan Truss

Wish upon a star, 2021
45 x 69 x 5 cm


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