One of the best ways to add character and visual interest to your home is through artwork - particularly vintage or antique pieces. I have a growing collection of oil paintings that I’ve picked up over the years from antique stores and French flea markets, and they’re some of my most treasured finds. Every time I travel abroad, I bring at least one home as a souvenir.
I’ve noticed it can be challenging to find quality, original, vintage paintings, so my assistant and I have done the hard work for you and sourced 27 pieces of French-inspired art for every budget. Many of them are original investment pieces, while others are more affordable reproductions, but they all have an old world aesthetic that will add character and uniqueness to any space.
Below you’ll find artwork in three categories: Portraits, Landscapes, and Drawings. These are further broken down into Investment, Mid-Range, and Affordable price points. The affordable pieces are all under $100, while the investment pieces can reach to $600 and up. I hope you find these sources helpful in curating your own unique collection. I’d love to hear what your favorite pieces are!
Vintage Portrait Paintings
In the past, the only reason you might own a portrait painting was by commissioning it for yourself or a family member - a portrait of your Great Aunt Elizabeth may have hung on the wall of your library, for instance, but nowadays, portraits of people you’ve never met have become some of the most interesting pieces in our modern decor. There’s something about a painted portrait that has a different feel than a photograph, and you may even find yourself wondering what kind of life the model once had. It gives a room a sense of history and personality. And immediate distant relatives…perhaps even royalty.
This tangerine-clad lady would add a subtle pop of color to any room, and the loose style of the brushwork keeps it feeling casual and lighthearted. This portrait of a woman at her vanity table would be a wonderful addition to a bathroom or powder room, and I really love this affordable Cezanne print if you’re looking for a more masculine feel for your space.
Images of the natural world never go out of style - whether it’s mountains, trees, the beach, or dramatic ocean waves. The subject matter and season depicted can make a big difference in what kind of mood they add to your space - a neutral snowy scene feels calm and reserved, while a vibrant forest vista feels more energetic. The frame used, or lack of one, can make a big difference in how a work is perceived. I personally love to prop up unframed canvas paintings on shelves as it feels effortlessly elegant. Of course, the right frame can really showcase and bring focus onto a work when it’s hung on a wall. The soft gold frame and muted colors of this painting are so beautiful, especially if you aren’t looking for anything too bold. It’s one of my personal favorites from the collection.
Antique Drawings & Prints
If you love a neutral color palette, then drawings, etchings and lithographs are the perfect choice. All together, their cohesion make a wonderful gallery wall, since there won’t be any bright colors competing with one another. This charming drawing of a girl and her dog is perfect for pet lovers, and this print of a Rembrandt landscape etching will instantly add contrast and drama to a room. I also love the minimal black frame and loose style of this sketched seascape and have several very similar in my home and studio.
The next time you’re browsing a flea market or antique shop, be on the lookout for original artwork - it will feel like such an accomplishment when you discover a hidden gem. I wouldn’t worry if it was by a famous artist or extremely valuable. Only that it speaks to you and would be a welcome addition to your home. And if you have the chance to travel abroad, always leave room in your suitcase! You will never regret purchasing a painting while traveling. The only regret comes from the ones you leave behind.