If there is one thing that antique painting buyers often ask themselves, it is this: What is it that makes certain antique paintings valuable and others worthless? Whether you are looking for the best place to sell paintings in order to turn a profit on paintings you’ve acquired or you work for a “we buy antique painting” service that is on the lookout for valuable new items to add to the store, consider the following guide to identifying valuable antique paintings versus worthless clutter.
Is the painting a genuine piece?
Perhaps the most obvious quality that impacts an antique painting’s value is its authenticity. Is the painting a genuine work from a certain artist? Or is it a copy?
Determining the authenticity can be difficult if you aren’t an expert, but look for key factors such as the availability of a signature (and a comparison of the signature with a verified signature from that artist); as well as examining the painting to see if it’s been actually painted. Feeling the surface of the painting for the right textures–versus the smooth textures found in prints and modern forgery paintings–can also help you determine a painting’s authenticity. You should also look for “modern” touches such as staples, plastic frames, or perfectly even canvas edges. These are all signs that the painting is a modern copy.
Who created the painting?
If the painting is genuine and not a modern print or copy, the next influence on the value is the artist who created the painting. Is the signature on the painting legible? How well-known was the artist? Was the artist’s work valuable during their lifetime? The more you are able to find out about the artist, the better. You should research the author’s name on various auction sites to see if any hits come up; from there, you should be able to see the previous auction prices of sold listings. This will help give you an idea of the overall worth of the paintings you’ve acquired.
A note on identifying an artist: Don’t dismiss an artist, simply because they aren’t famous names like Van Gogh or Lebrun—even the work by lesser known artists can be valuable to the right buyer!
What is the quality and condition of the painting?
The quality of the actual painting as well as its current condition can also have a significant impact on how many antique paintings sell for on the market. Paintings that are in excellent condition sell for more than paintings in poor condition, naturally—but you shouldn’t discount the importance of the painting quality and subject, either. As a general rule of thumb, portraits and landscapes both sell very well due to the popularity of these two genres in the antique painting market.
With the above factors in mind, you’ll be on your way to better identifying the value of antique paintings than ever before.