Archive for March, 2017

How to tell if an Eric Sloane painting is real or a print

March 15, 2017 |  by  |  Comments Off on How to tell if an Eric Sloane painting is real or a print
October Gleaning by Eric Sloane
Note:  Images of Eric Sloane works of art included in this article are all prints, not original works of art.
          Many Eric Sloane paintings were turned into prints over the years.  For decades, it was a very lucrative market.  A problem with these prints were that they were made to look exactly like the original.  Not to suggest that they were “fakes” – they were just made to look like the original paintings.  Often, they were sold in furniture stores and large retailers like Macy’s as a decorative item.
   Cloud Symphony by Eric Sloane
          Eric Sloane prints, especially ones that were made c. 1950-1975, share some similarities to originals.  First, they are often framed.  Second, they were affixed to a mid weight board, very similar to the Masonite sheets that Eric painted upon.  Third, the printing technology used to create the prints produced vivid and realistic colors very similar to oil paints, and finally, prints often appear “varnished”, as a machine was used to “paint” a coating over the print to both protect it and to make it appear as an original painting.  Sometimes, the machine produced “varnish” will readily give the “painting” away as a print.  The machine produced “varnish” will often appear like small swirls of a paint brush – usually 1/2″ to 1″ wide per swirl.  These swirls will repeat themselves across the entire image.  When Eric varnished his paintings, he usually used as 3″ – 4″ house painting brush and the strokes were decidedly not uniform in appearance.
Nostalgic Summer by Eric Sloane
     These prints were VERY good and have fooled a lot of people, including art dealers.
Contrast the two prints above with the previous images.  Obviously, a print is easily detected when it is printed on paper.  However, many thousands of Eric Sloane prints were printed on paper, affixed to sheets of masonite, then received an application of what appears to be varnish, all before being housed in a frame.  The result can be very convincing and has lured more than one unsuspecting buyer into purchasing a print at original prices.
        There are several other methods to use to determine if a painting is an original or a print.  The most basic is to determine if the painting has a provenance, or a written chain of ownership, preferably back to the original purchaser.  The paperwork should reflect prices paid at any point when ownership was transferred (e.g. from an art gallery to a buyer).  Eric Sloane paintings were almost always expensive enough to warrant some type of sales record, even between private parties.
Fairfax Bridge by Eric Sloane
    Original Eric Sloane paintings have a much different “feel” to them than prints, and there many aspects of an Eric Sloane work that provide clues as to it’s authenticity, year created, and even the Sloane’s purpose for painting the scence.
October Gleaning by Eric Sloane
      One sure way to determine if a work by Eric Sloane is a print or an original is to examine it carefully under strong magnification.  Usually a hand held magnifying glass is not strong enough.  You’ll need a more powerful glass, a loupe works best of all.  
 This particular print is an interesting one as I have only ever come across it printed on a canvas-like material.  I have had several people tell me that they new it to be a print right away as Eric Sloane never painted on canvas.  In truth, while it is a print, Eric did paint on canvas early in his career, but ceased using it c. 1952.
      A loupe is often used by a jeweler or watch maker, and is usually found in a comparatively powerful magnification.  You can use one to examine the lighter portions of the image (white clouds are a good choice).  If you are examining a print, under magnification you will see “printer’s dots”, a term given to the  hexagon-shaped blobs of ink laid down on the paper to form the image.  These printer’s dots are so tiny that they aren’t usually visible to the naked eye.  Under magnification, they look something like a photograph printed at really low resolution – a “pixelated” image.  When examined under magnification, the pixels that make up the photograph are evident – to the naked eye that image appears normal.  The same is true for prints.  Under magnification, the printer’s dots are evident, but to the naked eye, all you see is a painting.  
    To be sure, someone owns the original from which a print was made.  In only three of the examples of prints shown in this article do I know who owns the original.  You never know if you have the original.  It pays to check – every one of these examples is listed routinely on ebay and rarely fetches more than about $75 in excellent condition.  The original oil painting from which any one of these prints was struck would be worth anywhere from $15,000-$45,000.
    Comments I made previously in this article bear repeating.  All of the images used in this articles are prints.  Some framed, most quite large, all stunning, and many appear to be original works of art by Eric Sloane.  However, keep in mind that, when these were made, Eric Sloane was a household name.  It is very difficult to believe that one would somehow end up at a Salvation Army, yard sale, attic, basement, etc. In over twenty years in this business, I have yet to come across anyone who had an “Antiques Roadshow” moment where they paid $5.00 for an Eric Sloane painting at a yard sale that is worth $45,000.  Unfortunately, my experience is to the contrary.  I receive an average of five calls or emails every week from folks who are convinced – or just really want to believe – that they have an original.