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5 Factors Certified and Decorative Art Appraisers Consider When Valuing Paintings

Paintings are seen as one of the most impressive works of art throughout history. Research shows they are the most popular media found in collections worldwide, making up 83% compared to drawings, collage, and other works on paper that make up a mere 15%. This explains their high value in auctions and other areas selling artwork. Whether you’re an art collector or a buyer, knowing how to value a painting is crucial. Most people assume the artist solely determines the value of a painting, but that is not true. On the contrary, certified fine and decorative art appraisers examine many other factors when determining a painting’s value. Here are five factors considered by art appraisers.

1. The Condition of the Painting

Generally, when buying a car or a piece of furniture, the one in better condition costs more. This theory holds true when buying a painting, as buyers want to know how much use they can obtain from the item. Sometimes, the buyer may be inspired to purchase a painting despite its condition, perhaps due to the artist’s subject matter. In such scenarios, the art appraiser examines the type of damage to determine if it can be restored after purchase and if it has been overpriced. If it’s still a worthy buy, the certified fine art appraiser should factor in the costs and time involved in restoring it when making an offer.

2. Provenance

Provenance is another factor that certified fine and decorative art appraisers use when determining the value of a painting. The stronger the provenance, the better. Provenance refers to the history and identity of the painting. This means if the seller or owner can trace the work to the artist and create a strong pedigree, its overall value increases. An art appraiser near me may also inquire if the painting has been included in the artist’s catalogue raisonné. Finding out the provenance of a painting helps answer three questions:

  • Who is the owner of the painting? If the painting was previously stolen, as in the cases of pieces looted in Europe, it becomes difficult to sell. This is because the painting may have been later confiscated and returned to the owner.
  • What is the painting’s value? If the painting has passed through the hands of a prestigious collector, celebrity, historical figure, or famous gallery, its value may increase.
  • What is the painting’s authenticity? Certified fine art appraisers regard paintings with a documented chain of ownership as authentic. However, some sellers use falsified provenance to sell paintings at a higher value.

3. The Artist’s Lifecycle

Most artists have a peak period, which is when they made their best pieces. As such, paintings created at the beginning of their career may attract lower prices than mid-career. For example, certified fine and decorative art appraisers will value F. N. Souza’s paintings made in the 1950s and 60s higher than any other period. This is because the artist came to the limelight during this period showcasing his work at Gallery One in London. Other artists’ work, like Hussain, had their peak periods in the 1970s, 80s, and early 90s.

4. Unique Versus Editioned Work

Generally, unique artwork like sculptures and paintings created by hand cost more than editioned works (lithographs, serigraphs). Similarly, prints with an artist’s proof have a higher value than an edition of the work. A proof is an impression made during the printmaking process and is usually signed Artist’s Proof (A/P). The artist may also include the serial number of that portion of the edition. Art appraisers consider the Artist’s Proof a status symbol that increases the value of the print.

5. The Subject of the Painting

While the subject matter is often a matter of taste, paintings with specific subjects have a higher value than others. For example, paintings of female nudes attract more buyers than those of an older man. Note, this isn’t the only factor that the certified fine and decorative art appraisers will consider when valuing the painting. The quality of the painting also influences value. For example, if a female painting is created on a piece of oil canvas, it may be an expensive painting.

Certified fine and decorative art appraisers examine these highlighted factors to determine the value of a painting. If the painting is damaged and the buyer still wants to purchase it, the appraiser factors in the cost of repair, too.