Yes, you can hang oil paintings in sunlight. Unlike works on paper, such as watercolours and prints, oil paintings are far more resilient. However, caution should still be taken when choosing a location for important artworks.
Whilst a well-lit room is fine for oil paintings, you should avoid putting them in a place which has a rapid or frequent change in temperature. You should also avoid putting them in a place which faces a direct afternoon glare from the sun. Changes in heat and strong sun rays can have a negative effect on the health of your artwork.
All artwork should be protected from UV rays. Also known as ultraviolet rays, they are electromagnetic radiation from the sun. UV rays are what makes your skin tan or burn in hot temperatures, causing skin damage. Your paintings can be just as susceptible to damage from this source, which is why a direct amount of sunlight is never advised and UV filtering techniques are best practice.
Too much sunlight, over a long period of time, can cause chemical changes to paint. Under these rays, green tones which were historically laced with copper may turn brown and often a blue pigment will fade into a muted grey. If you see these changes occurring over time, your painting is almost certainly being affected by the light positioning in your home.
Oil paintings are often finished with a layer of varnish, but if there are small gaps or cracking to this layer, the painting underneath will have no protection at all. UV proof glass, UV filtering blinds and UV film to place on your windows can be used as an extra measure, to ensure the oil painting is always properly protected.
The ideal temperature for an oil painting is around 16-26 degrees celsius, this will avoid any issues with mould or damp damaging the artwork. Humidity should be kept no higher than 45% to also decrease risks of moisture damage. If your painting is in a sunlit room, simply ensure that these interior temperatures and humidity are not affected by the time of year, or during different positions throughout the day.
If your painting has been affected by UV rays or requires specialist treatment with UV filtering varnish, please contact us for further information. We can also reframe your artwork with UV filtering glass to a museum standard, to ensure the protection and conservation of your favourite paintings.