Are Oil Paintings More Valuable Than Acrylic?

A painting made from oil paints does not make it more valuable than one made with acrylic paintings. And one type of painting is not better than the other. They both have their respective places.

Many professional artists today use acrylic paints. I was a full-time professional artist for 12 years (until I decided to become an art curator) and at the end of my career, I chose to only use acrylic paints.

I loved how the acrylic paints I used (Liquitex Professional Acrylic Paint, Amazon) were non-toxic, rich in color, fast-drying, gave a crisp brush stroke and amazing texture, and they were archival (durable, non-yellowing, UV-resistant, water-resistant, and were guaranteed to remain in top condition for 50+ years).

Acrylic paints have really come a long way and they are as valuable as present-day oil paintings.

Why Are Oil Paintings Often Thought To Be the Best?

The age and history of a painting is often a factor that makes it more valuable:

  • Provenance: A record of who the painting belonged to can also be used as a guide to authenticity and quality. If a painting was once owned by a famous collector or came from an esteemed art gallery, the value of the painting will greatly increase.
  • Historical Significance: First, the value of a painting will increase if it had any importance to art history in its genre (category). But world history also affects the value of a painting since it’s often a reflection of cultural, political, economical, social, and military history.
  • Auctions: Oil paintings are more likely to end up in auctions because of their age. Just the sudden feeling of excitement bidders can have at an auction, especially if the auctioneer is skilled at making an auction exhilarating, can raise the price of a painting.

The first commercially available water-based acrylic paints were only placed on the market in 1955. Meanwhile, artists have been using oil paintings since the 15th century.

So it’s not that oil paintings are better than acrylics. It’s that an oil painting is more likely to have a longer history than an acrylic painting because of its age, and consequently have more value.

Why Are Oil Paintings So Expensive?

I’ll admit that some artists do charge quite a bit for their oil paintings. But, high-quality paintings don’t actually have to be that expensive.

Here are some factors that will increase the price (and value):

  • Top-Quality Materials: Oil paint is usually more expensive than acrylic paint. Plus, if the artist uses professional archival stretch canvases and paints, it will increase the value of the painting.
  • Well-Known Artist: If you’re buying an oil painting created by a well-known artist, you’ll be paying more than if the work was made by an emerging artist.
  • Popularity: If the oil painting is featured in the news, books, museums, catalogs, websites, or other media, the price will go up.
  • The Story: If there’s a really cool story behind the artwork (like a famous person used to own it or was featured in a TV show or play), then a framed print will probably go up in price.

How Do You Know if a Certain Oil Painting Is Valuable?

If you’re really serious about knowing if an oil painting is valuable, find an art appraiser at a gallery, museum, or auction house (or just google “art appraiser near me“).

A certified art appraiser is trained to determine the authenticity and value of art, including oil paintings. They work with other art experts to compare paintings and to find similarities and differences that make the painting unique.

They’ll also look at the condition of the oil painting for any physical flaws.

If the painting is authentic and in good condition, they’ll do an evaluation of the market. They’ll look at former sales by the same artist, works in the same genre, the climate of the market in general, and the current demand for the artist.

All of this will allow the appraiser to give you a professional opinion of what the oil painting is worth.