What Makes an Oil Painting so Valuable
  • 16 Oct, 2020
  • By Admin
  • Home & Garden

What Makes an Oil Painting so Valuable

Whether you want to click here now to check out affordable oil painting reproductions or improve your understanding of the classics, it’s important to understand why this type of art is so valuable. The high value of some oil paintings can be astounding to those just entering the art world as it is based on a few factors. These are some of the biggest reasons why oil paintings are assigned such a high value. 

High Demand 

Another reason that oil paintings are so highly valued is rather simple economics. Because of their high profile, these paintings are in high demand. Due to this demand and the relative scarcity of masterpieces, high-quality oil paintings are considered a commodity with a higher value than some art forms.  The art market is fraught with buyers looking to purchase high-quality original oil paintings or reproductions. Oil paintings produced by famous artists are likely to be considered of higher value than those of less famous artists. The same is true for oil paintings in high demand styles or those that capture iconic landmarks and events.  For example, one of Van Gogh’s self-portraits will be worth more at auction than an oil painting created by an unknown artist. However, as will be expanded on in the following sections, even a relatively unknown oil painting can outreach another medium when it comes to assigning value. 


An artwork’s provenance is defined as the history of its ownership. If a painting was once owned by a famous collector or gallery, it’s worth will skyrocket. This is because critics and buyers look to fellow art connoisseurs to determine the value of a painting.  As oil painting has been around for centuries, most historical works have had numerous owners throughout the years. Should any of those previous owners have been famous in the art world, a painting would have a high bidding price at auction. 

Subject Matter 

The subject of an oil painting is often a big factor in determining its value. Historically, portraits of women, especially those of notoriety, sell at higher prices than those focusing on men. Conversely, depictions of war scenes tend to be sold at high auction prices. Since oil paintings are so diverse and capture a wide variety of subject matter, this flexibility helps to increase their value. 


Artists tend to paint within the styles and mediums that produce their unique art. Picasso, for example, is known best for his Cubist paintings. His other works are not as easily recognized as Picasso paintings, which affects their value.  On top of that, oil painting as a medium is inherently unique. For one, since they dry slower than a medium such as acrylic paints, it’s easier to blend colors. This has led to a higher volume of realistic artworks that are considered highly valuable.  Oil paints are also an excellent choice when looking for richer colors as well. This is well-documented in artistic movements such as the Baroque Era where dramatic color juxtaposition was a key feature. 

Artistic Skill

While oil paints do have distinct advantages, that doesn’t mean that just anyone who picks some up can create a masterpiece. It takes a lot of skill to formulate a painting from start to finish that catches eyes and turns heads.   This difficulty leads to a higher value placed on artists’ work with oil paintings. That is both a result of scarcity of well-done oil paintings compared to other art forms and as a recognition of the time and energy that an artist puts into not only a single painting but working on and perfected their craft over the years. 

Historical Impact

As has been discussed, one of the major reasons for the high value of oil paintings is because so many of the master artists that the world has come to know over the years chose this paint as their medium.  This has given oil paintings a level of historical significance that is appreciated by everyone from historians to the average person looking to decorate their home with recognizable art. In part, it’s thanks to paintings such as Starry Night and Mona Lisa that helped oil paintings reach a high profile perception. These masters are so significant that even a quality reproduction is considered fairly valuable.


Understanding the factors that go into determining the value of an oil painting is critical for any art buyer. Whether the works are originals or reproductions, the value of each oil painting is unique. From the nature of oil paints themselves to the time it takes to master them and even to the economic principles surrounding the factors that give oil paintings such a high value. This has made them not only gorgeous but only further increased the interest of art collectors all over the world.