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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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Philippe Pasqua, Etude, Painting

Philippe Pasqua

Etude, 2014
100 x 81 cm


Liora, Portoferraio, Painting


Portoferraio, 2021
30 x 60 x 2 cm


Philippe Huart, Corail rouge vertige - vortex 21, Painting

Philippe Huart

Corail rouge vertige - vortex 21, 2020
15 x 15 x 2 cm


Ewa Hauton, Libre, Painting

Ewa Hauton

Libre, 2021
150 x 120 x 2 cm


Milburn-Foster, Let's Dance II, Painting


Let's Dance II, 2021
116 x 73 cm


Nicolas Fropo de Habart, Marine, Painting

Nicolas Fropo de Habart

Marine, 2021
65 x 92 x 2.5 cm


Ralph Resch, Zone vierge, Painting

Ralph Resch

Zone vierge, 2020
100 x 81 x 3 cm


Nicolas Monjo, Erreur GPS, Painting

Nicolas Monjo

Erreur GPS, 2021
130 x 97 x 2 cm

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Fabienne Ribeyrolles, Armageddon, Painting

Fabienne Ribeyrolles

Armageddon, 2020
80 x 80 cm


Tommaso Fattovich, Stracciare, Painting

Tommaso Fattovich

Stracciare, 2021
137.16 x 274.32 cm


Thérèse Bosc, Divagations 5 - Vers l'espoir, Painting

Thérèse Bosc

Divagations 5 - Vers l'espoir, 2021
80 x 80 cm


Michel Trapezaroff, Petit ruisseau au printemps, Painting

Michel Trapezaroff

Petit ruisseau au printemps, 2021
19 x 27 x 2 cm


Anne-Christine Wellenstein, Et glisse la lumière, Painting

Anne-Christine Wellenstein

Et glisse la lumière, 2019
50 x 50 cm


Rodolpho Tamanini Netto, La traversée, Painting

Rodolpho Tamanini Netto

La traversée, 2012
40 x 60 x 2 cm


Muriel Charbonnier, La Machine, Painting

Muriel Charbonnier

La Machine, 2021
80 x 80 cm


Jérôme Lagarrigue, Head of a Man 1, Painting

Jérôme Lagarrigue

Head of a Man 1, 2021
58 x 77 cm


Sébastien Couëffic, Voyageurs entre montagnes et ruisseaux, Painting

Sébastien Couëffic

Voyageurs entre montagnes et ruisseaux, 2019
150 x 100 x 2 cm


Lucia Buccini, Souvenir d´enfance, Painting

Lucia Buccini

Souvenir d´enfance, 2010
40 x 40 x 2 cm


Brigitte Demange, Leopard, Painting

Brigitte Demange

Leopard, 2021
100 x 100 cm


Marta Zawadzka, Sunlight, Painting

Marta Zawadzka

Sunlight, 2021
120 x 160 x 2 cm


René Romero Schuler, Famke, Painting

René Romero Schuler

Famke, 2019
137.5 x 91.5 x 4 cm


Eric Marsiam, N6, Painting

Eric Marsiam

N6, 2020
100 x 100 x 1.5 cm


Sergio Cecchi, Grand-Rue, vielle ville Genève, Painting

Sergio Cecchi

Grand-Rue, vielle ville Genève, 1949
76 x 53 x 2 cm


EMPHI, Bowie Life, Painting


Bowie Life, 2018
80 x 60 x 0.1 cm

$1,807 $2,258

Christian Jodin, Light red and gold, Painting

Christian Jodin

Light red and gold, 2021
80 x 80 x 1 cm

$435 $621

Roberto De Francisci, Altar Boys, Painting

Roberto De Francisci

Altar Boys, 2013
140 x 145 x 0.1 cm

$1,606 $2,007

Laurence Hubswerlin Diradourian, Versailles, Painting

Laurence Hubswerlin Diradourian

Versailles, 2021
90 x 60 cm


Alexander Daniloff, Pesca fortunata, Painting

Alexander Daniloff

Pesca fortunata, 2020
30 x 20 x 0.1 cm

$203 $238

Atanas Levakov, Untitled, Painting

Atanas Levakov

Untitled, 2021
20 x 20 x 3 cm


Albena Petkova, Parallel I, Painting

Albena Petkova

Parallel I, 2021
100 x 135 x 3 cm


Benoit Havard, Terrasse parisienne, Painting

Benoit Havard

Terrasse parisienne, 2020
89 x 130 x 2.5 cm


Pierre-Eugène Vibert, Portrait de jeune femme, Painting

Pierre-Eugène Vibert

Portrait de jeune femme, 1928
37.5 x 32.5 x 1 cm


G. Innocente, Chevaux affolés par le feu, Painting

G. Innocente

Chevaux affolés par le feu, 1915
48 x 73 x 2 cm


Albert Silvestre, Corps de ferme, Painting

Albert Silvestre

Corps de ferme, 1930
60 x 46 x 2 cm


Roger Descombes, Composition abstraite, Painting

Roger Descombes

Composition abstraite, 1972
50 x 65 x 2 cm


Manu Muñoz, Starlings (Red), Painting

Manu Muñoz

Starlings (Red), 2021
60 x 60 x 2 cm


Françoise DAGORN, Diving to a better world ?, Painting

Françoise DAGORN

Diving to a better world ?, 2021
100 x 160 cm


Arthur Jean Baptiste Calame, Barques de pêche sur la lagune de Venise, Painting

Arthur Jean Baptiste Calame

Barques de pêche sur la lagune de Venise, 1903
85.5 x 60 x 2 cm


Hermann Herzog, Fantastic Fjord, Painting

Hermann Herzog

Fantastic Fjord, 1902
134 x 86 x 0.1 cm

$34,124 $42,655

Lin B Zin, Suite 1/6, Painting

Lin B Zin

Suite 1/6, 2017
100 x 100 x 2.5 cm


Emmanuelle Renard, La skéteuse, Painting

Emmanuelle Renard

La skéteuse, 2017
70 x 50 cm


Patrick Marie, Campanules, Painting

Patrick Marie

Campanules, 2021
65 x 50 x 2 cm

$1,204 $1,505

Albena Vatcheva, Gémeaux, Painting

Albena Vatcheva

Gémeaux, 2021
43 x 43 x 0.3 cm

$469 $521

Maude Ovize, Summer day, Painting

Maude Ovize

Summer day, 2021
81 x 232 x 3 cm

$4,015 $5,018

Nata Marcillac, La robe d'été de ma nièce Marlène, La Celle sur Nièvre, Painting

Nata Marcillac

La robe d'été de ma nièce Marlène, La Celle sur Nièvre, 2009
92 x 65 cm


Gilbert Pauli, Les mains jointes, Painting

Gilbert Pauli

Les mains jointes, 2000
37 x 27 x 2 cm


Edmond Li Bellefroid, Yin Yang, Painting

Edmond Li Bellefroid

Yin Yang, 2021
55 x 92 x 2 cm


Karine Bartoli, Sport d'Hiver, Painting

Karine Bartoli

Sport d'Hiver, 2021
100 x 80 x 4 cm


Diana Malivani, Souvenir du jardin estival, Painting

Diana Malivani

Souvenir du jardin estival, 2021
120 x 150 x 4 cm


Magdalena Morey, Ocean Light 1, Painting

Magdalena Morey

Ocean Light 1, 2021
50 x 50 x 3.5 cm


Agnès Tiollier, Lumière fauve, Painting

Agnès Tiollier

Lumière fauve, 2021
116 x 89 x 2.5 cm


Yasna Godovanik, I Will Love You Forever, Painting

Yasna Godovanik

I Will Love You Forever, 2021
100 x 70 x 1.5 cm

$895 $1,568

Mario Henrique, Untitled, Painting

Mario Henrique

Untitled, 2021
100 x 100 cm


Christine Drummond, African Flavor, Painting

Christine Drummond

African Flavor, 2021
76.2 x 121.9 x 5.1 cm


Vladimir Velickovic, Danger, Painting

Vladimir Velickovic

Danger, 2015
35 x 27 x 2 cm


Gaëtan de Séguin, J+ le H de chromosome, Painting

Gaëtan de Séguin

J+ le H de chromosome, 2020
100 x 100 x 3 cm


Patrick Cornée, Amy Winehouse, Time, Pink version, Painting

Patrick Cornée

Amy Winehouse, Time, Pink version, 2021
80 x 80 x 3 cm

$2,823 $3,136

Jean-Baptiste Dumont, Sans titre, Painting

Jean-Baptiste Dumont

Sans titre, 2021
40 x 30 x 2 cm


Pamphyle, Au bord du canal, Painting


Au bord du canal, 2018
130 x 97 x 2 cm


Eric Munsch, Poésie maritime, Painting

Eric Munsch

Poésie maritime, 2021
80 x 80 x 2 cm


Jean Jourdan, Evasion, Painting

Jean Jourdan

Evasion, 2021
50 x 100 x 2 cm

$881 $979

Serghei Ghetiu, The young ballerina dreams II, Painting

Serghei Ghetiu

The young ballerina dreams II, 2021
50 x 60 x 2 cm


Elena Troyanskaya, Flow, Painting

Elena Troyanskaya

Flow, 2021
30 x 30 cm

$395 $439

Agnieszka Kozien, Summertime 25, Painting

Agnieszka Kozien

Summertime 25, 2017
30 x 40 cm


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