Art Deco Painting Buying Guide

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Art Deco Painting Buying Guide

Art Deco is a form of abstract painting that gained prominence in France during the early 1920’s and 30’s. Art Deco has been described as a very modern style and its popularity has been constant since its heyday. Buying any type of art can cause apprehension, especially if the transaction is made online.

However buying online can greatly reduce costs and can lead to finding pieces that might not be available in a store or a gallery. eBay is an ideal site to buy from and this guide will help with the search and purchase process.

Art Deco Paintings

Art Deco is known for its unusual style, which features rich and high contrasting colours, geometric shapes and a sense of glamour associated with the interwar period of the 1920’s and 30’s. Art Deco is considered one of the most important movements in 20th century art, due to the following reasons:  

  • Style originated in paintings.
  • Quickly assimilated in other aspects of life including fashion, jewellery, interior design, architecture and automobile design.
  • Influenced by architecture and travel.
  • During the 1930’s, Art Deco was often used in public works including in train stations, theatres and amusement parks.
  • Associated with luxury and glamour.
  • Reflective of the public’s progressive relationship with technology and industrialisation that occurred during this period.


  • Symmetry, geometrical shapes and designs, vibrant and bold colours, rich textures.
  • Pieces showcasing symmetry tend to have very defined if not perfect symmetry.
  • Patterns such as checked squares and zigzags.
  • Common themes found in Art Deco include nudity and the natural world (both animals and flora).

The following are some of the artists most associated with the Art Deco movement. Search for their works online to become familiar with the defining aspects of this style of painting.

  • Tamara de Lempicka – A Polish painter who moved to Paris during the Russian Revolution. Tamara de Lempicka was enamoured by the glamorous Parisian lifestyle, which was a direct contrast to the life being lived by the many people affected by the Revolution. This is evident in her paintings from the period, and she often painted portraits of her bourgeois peers. Tamara de Lempicka is one of the most loved and well-known Art Deco painters.
  • Louis Icart – Born in France in 1880. Icart also rose to fame after spending time in Paris. His nude paintings are synonymous with the Art Deco movement.
  • Clarence Cole Philips – An American painter and illustrator, Philips is known for his paintings of women and how he used negative space in his art to greater effect.

Searching For Art Deco

Before beginning your search, there are a number of things to take into consideration. Always spend some time reading up on a painting and artist before making a purchase.

Research the Painting

Take the time to research the artist and their work, and how it fits into the world of Art Deco. The more art deco knowledge gained prior to purchasing, the more successful the search will be.

  • Visit Art Deco exhibitions in galleries and museums.
  • Check online for prices of similar pieces.

Prepare a Space

Depending on the size of the painting, it may need anything from a small table top to large wall space to display the art.

  • If hanging the painting on the wall, will the background suit the painting? Remember that Art Deco is known for its rich colours and odd angles, and therefore best suited to display on a neutral colour such as white.
  • The lighting around the painting will have a great impact on how it looks. Smaller paintings benefit from lamps, but a big Art Deco piece may need a light directly overhead to give it the right amount of light.
  • It is important to pay particular attention to the positioning of the piece in the room. Be aware of the room’s natural symmetry and experiment with positions to find the spot that best compliments both painting and room.
  • A strong coloured rug will add to the vibrancy of the room.

Buying the Right Accessories

  • Tall and slim accessories such as lamps and statues work well with the paintings.
  • Should be smooth and have examples of curvature.
  • Glossy materials such as glass, chrome and jade all make for good Art Deco accessories.
  • Move the piece around the room until it fits well with the room’s atmosphere.

Buying Art Deco Paintings on eBay

  • Head to eBay and click on the All Categories Tab.
  • Scroll over to Art and click on Paintings.
  • The painting listings page will appear.
  • If the artist and painting is known, enter this information into the search bar and press enter.
  • Alternatively, enter Art Deco into the search bar to see all results for this style on eBay.

Entering additional information such as the date, country of origin or subject matter will help with the search and speed up the process. eBay’s Wish List feature will let other users know if a painting that is not listed on the site is being searched for.

Originals and Reproductions

Although the majority of people prefer original paintings, these can be unattainable due to price or lack of availability. There are both originals and reproductions for sale on eBay so always check what the painting is. If it is an original it can be expected to be more expensive. If unsure about a painting’s authenticity, contact the seller. When the piece is received and if still unsure of its authenticity, here are some tips to help determine its status

  • Examine the front of the painting. If it is an original, the sight and feel of the textures from dried paint should be apparent. Also the colours may appear dulled from age.
  • Check the back of the painting and its canvas. Originals may have slight damage from aging.
  • Have the work appraised by a third party. An art dealer will quickly be able to authenticate a painting.

Painting Listings Page

  • The table on the left contains filters that can help with the search for a piece. These include the Subject, Condition, Price, Style, and Date of Creation.
  • Paintings are listed either as Buy It Now or for auction. If a painting is But It Now then it is for sale for a set price and is not subject to auction.
  • The number of paintings shown per page can be adjusted at the bottom of the page. eBay shows pages with 25/50/100/200 listings.
  • The Sort By drop down menu allows the listing layouts to be modified. This tool makes it possible to view the painting listings by price, condition, location and the time remaining for the auction.

Paintings Item Page

  • Clicking on a paintings title will open up the item page.
  • The item page contains information and details about the painting.
  • Photos of the painting are on this page. Make sure that the photos have been taken by the seller and have not been obtained from the Internet.
  • Information about the auction, such as the current bid and bid placed so far can be found on the right of the page.
  • The description box holds any details about the painting, if it is framed etc. Always check the description box as this is where the seller will leave messages for potential buyers about the item.
  • Beside the description box is the post and package heading. Click on this to see the cost of postage for the piece, where the painting is being sent from and estimated delivery times.
  • Most paintings (especially the more sought after expensive pieces), should come with a Certificate of Authenticity. Beware pieces without this Certificate, as this is the only thing that can guarantee the paintings identity.
  • If the painting has had multiple owners then it is possible to request a Provenance. This details the painting’s history and who has owned it.

Buying From the Seller

Buying art online may seem like a risk. Although eBay is designed to keep frauds and fake pieces out, there may be an occasional item which arouses suspicion. Remember,

  • Request as much information about the painting as desired. Ask about the condition, if the painting is framed and where the seller has been storing it.
  • Request photos to inspect the painting. Ask for a photo of the back of the canvas or frame.
  • Be wary of paintings that are without a Certificate of Authentication. This is especially true for more expensive or sought after pieces. If the painting has had a number of previous owners, request a Provenance.
  • Always check the feedback that other buyers have left on a seller’s profile. This is a quick way to see if their paintings are as described and are delivered on time. If there is more negative than positive feedback then it is advised to look at another listing.
  • If any problems are encounter when dealing with a seller, then contact the eBay Resolution Centre. The Centre is there to resolve any buyer/seller disputes, and can be found by clicking the link in the Customer Support drop down menu.


eBay is an ideal place to look for Art Deco paintings, more so than a store or gallery. Before beginning the search, be sure to research the style and the artist or themes that you’re interested in.

When viewing a listing always check for Certificates of Authenticity and request as much information as required. With some diligence and determination you will be able to find the perfect Art Deco painting to compliment the atmosphere of its surroundings.

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