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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
27.6 x 23.6 x 1 inch


Liora, Traffic 2, Painting


Traffic 2, 2021
23.6 x 23.6 x 1.6 inch


Daniel Castan, Black active, Painting

Daniel Castan

Black active, 2021
31.5 x 31.5 x 1.6 inch


Antonino Puliafico, Riflessi di monti, Painting

Antonino Puliafico

Riflessi di monti, 2021
27.6 x 31.5 x 0.8 inch


Mara Toledo, La cuiellette du printemps, Painting

Mara Toledo

La cuiellette du printemps, 2021
27.6 x 39.4 x 0.8 inch


Laurent Bouro, Les arbres 1.9, Painting

Laurent Bouro

Les arbres 1.9, 2021
47.2 x 31.5 x 1.6 inch


Françoise Dugourd-Caput, Objectif, Painting

Françoise Dugourd-Caput

Objectif, 2017
27.6 x 39.4 inch


Jérémie Iordanoff, Untitled 765, Painting

Jérémie Iordanoff

Untitled 765, 2021
31.9 x 39.4 inch


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

Jean-Yves Fremaux

Soleil pluie sur les petites rues de Montmartre, 2020
47.2 x 15.7 x 1.2 inch


Lucia Buccini, Jardin, potager et pommier, Painting

Lucia Buccini

Jardin, potager et pommier, 1995
17.7 x 21.7 x 1.2 inch


Georges Darel, Paysage animé en bord de Seine, Painting

Georges Darel

Paysage animé en bord de Seine, 1925
21.3 x 24.8 x 0.8 inch


Tommaso Fattovich, Bloom, Painting

Tommaso Fattovich

Bloom, 2021
60 x 48 inch


Muriel Averos, Déferlante, Painting

Muriel Averos

Déferlante, 2021
23.6 x 28.7 inch


Marta Zawadzka, Paris, Painting

Marta Zawadzka

Paris, 2021
47.2 x 47.2 x 0.8 inch


Xavier Albert Fiala, L'Architecte, Painting

Xavier Albert Fiala

L'Architecte, 1952
45.7 x 35 x 0.4 inch


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

Luigi Surdi

Il Colosseo e la Domus Aura, Roma, 1942
21.7 x 26.2 x 0.4 inch


Yasna Godovanik, In Rush For Love, Painting

Yasna Godovanik

In Rush For Love, 2021
31.5 x 31.5 x 0.8 inch

$829 $1,507

Ralph Resch, Sans titre, Painting

Ralph Resch

Sans titre, 2021
31.9 x 25.6 x 0.8 inch


MacAmnaub, Composition abstraite, Painting


Composition abstraite, 1990
51.2 x 38.2 x 0.8 inch


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

Louis Rheiner

Paysage en montagne au bord du ruisseau, 1900
11.8 x 16.9 x 0.8 inch


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

Olivier Messas

Liberté… (série: Expression libre), 2021
43.3 x 43.3 x 0.4 inch


Zena Blackwell, Untitled, Painting

Zena Blackwell

Untitled, 2021
10 x 10 x 0.8 inch


Ghost Art, Abstract circle, Painting

Ghost Art

Abstract circle, 2020
59.1 x 59.1 x 1.2 inch


Ludwig Willroider, Lac de montagne et coucher de soleil, Painting

Ludwig Willroider

Lac de montagne et coucher de soleil, 1902
35.8 x 50 x 0.8 inch


A. Augsburger, Paysage au bord du lac, Painting

A. Augsburger

Paysage au bord du lac, 1927
18.1 x 21.3 x 0.8 inch


Gérard Tisserand, Le Confort, Painting

Gérard Tisserand

Le Confort, 1964
36 x 28.7 x 0.8 inch


Tiago Francez, The Burden, Painting

Tiago Francez

The Burden, 2014
37.4 x 27.6 x 2 inch


Maude Ovize, Murmures, Painting

Maude Ovize

Murmures, 2021
45.7 x 70.1 x 1.2 inch

$3,616 $4,821

Rafal Gadowski, Apples 19, Painting

Rafal Gadowski

Apples 19, 2021
47.2 x 47.2 x 1 inch


Manu Muñoz, Celebrating Something, Painting

Manu Muñoz

Celebrating Something, 2021
47.2 x 63 x 1.6 inch


Patrick Cornée, Popeye loves Bitcoins, Painting

Patrick Cornée

Popeye loves Bitcoins, 2021
31.5 x 31.5 x 1.2 inch

$2,712 $3,013

Agnès Tiollier, Serre de la Tête d'or, Painting

Agnès Tiollier

Serre de la Tête d'or, 2015
15.7 x 15.7 x 1 inch


Joyce Fournier, Missing you, Painting

Joyce Fournier

Missing you, 2011
14 x 11 x 1 inch


Julia Whitehead, Time and Place, Painting

Julia Whitehead

Time and Place, 2021
59.1 x 47.2 x 2 inch


Florence V. Henric, Beaume apaisant, Painting

Florence V. Henric

Beaume apaisant, 2021
11.8 x 11.8 x 0.8 inch


Serghei Ghetiu, Little ballerinas meet the summer bird, Painting

Serghei Ghetiu

Little ballerinas meet the summer bird, 2021
33.5 x 23.6 x 0.8 inch


Mónica Castanys, Cobalt, Painting

Mónica Castanys

Cobalt, 2020
11.8 x 11.8 inch


Isabelle Fournet, Écume, Méditerranée, Painting

Isabelle Fournet

Écume, Méditerranée, 2021
31.5 x 39.4 x 1.6 inch


Ewa Hauton, Wings, Painting

Ewa Hauton

Wings, 2020
39.4 x 49.2 x 0.8 inch


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

Marie France Garrigues

Rue Cortot, rus du Mont Cenis, 2021
19.7 x 19.7 x 0.8 inch


Bastien Ducourtioux, Blueberry, Painting

Bastien Ducourtioux

Blueberry, 2020
47.2 x 39.4 x 1.2 inch


Josette Dubost, Arches Marines, Painting

Josette Dubost

Arches Marines, 2012
31.5 x 31.5 x 1.6 inch


Gilbert Pauli, Les drapeaux de la paix n°36, Painting

Gilbert Pauli

Les drapeaux de la paix n°36, 2005
27.6 x 31.5 x 0.8 inch


Jean-Marc Amigues, Sous bois, Painting

Jean-Marc Amigues

Sous bois, 2021
23.6 x 23.6 x 1.2 inch


Svitlana Sherstiuk, Tangerines, Painting

Svitlana Sherstiuk

Tangerines, 2020
39.4 x 31.5 x 2 inch


Diana Malivani, Lemon Tree, Painting

Diana Malivani

Lemon Tree, 2021
47.2 x 59.1 x 1.6 inch


Lusine Abrahamyan, Vardavar Lake, Painting

Lusine Abrahamyan

Vardavar Lake, 2021
23.6 x 31.5 x 0.8 inch

$1,087 $1,326

Alina Melnikova, Flying Bush I, Painting

Alina Melnikova

Flying Bush I, 2021
45.7 x 35 x 0.8 inch


Àlex Prunés, Petita casa-moll, Painting

Àlex Prunés

Petita casa-moll, 2021
11.8 x 15.7 inch


Gregory Malphurs, Bored of Directors 4, Painting

Gregory Malphurs

Bored of Directors 4, 2021
9 x 6 inch


Félix Hemme, 649 Glyphe, Painting

Félix Hemme

649 Glyphe, 2021
28.3 x 36.6 x 1.2 inch


Peter Carella, July River, Painting

Peter Carella

July River, 2017
12 x 16 x 0.25 inch


Jonathan Truss, Wish upon a star, Painting

Jonathan Truss

Wish upon a star, 2021
17.7 x 27.2 x 2 inch


Yann Letestu, Après l'aurore, Painting

Yann Letestu

Après l'aurore, 2021
29.1 x 20.1 x 1.2 inch


Cristen Miller, Mt. Diablo View, Painting

Cristen Miller

Mt. Diablo View, 2019
16 x 20 inch


Maria Perello, L'hora mágica, Painting

Maria Perello

L'hora mágica, 2021
35.4 x 43.3 inch


Colin Lawson, Modus 1, Painting

Colin Lawson

Modus 1, 2019
31.5 x 31.5 x 2 inch


Aukse Miliukaite, Dear Painting, We are your apprentices. Sincerely, A and  M (from  Isla  Napuka), Painting

Aukse Miliukaite

Dear Painting, We are your apprentices. Sincerely, A and M (from Isla Napuka), 2018
39.4 x 35.4 x 1.4 inch


Christof Monnin, Le clown, Painting

Christof Monnin

Le clown, 2021
39.4 x 39.4 x 1.2 inch


Artize, Regarder le vent, Painting


Regarder le vent, 2021
21.7 x 18.1 x 0.8 inch


Luiza Maia, Singer, Painting

Luiza Maia

Singer, 2020
30 x 24 inch


Beatriz Oggero, Lake, Painting

Beatriz Oggero

Lake, 2002
39.4 x 31.5 inch


Marc Chalme, The hours II, Painting

Marc Chalme

The hours II, 2019
10.5 x 14 inch


François Bajeot, Marilyn Monroe, Painting

François Bajeot

Marilyn Monroe, 2021
31.5 x 23.6 x 0.8 inch


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