What Makes a Painting Valuable?

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What Makes a Painting Valuable? (Why Do We Value Paintings)

The value of paintings is more than just being creative, decorating a house, or the monetary value of materials used (like using gold, ivory, and rare paints).

Here are a few other reasons why we value art so much:

  • Historical Value: One of the most popular reasons we value paintings is that it can be a record of cultural history. Paintings are inextricably tied to the time and cultural context it was created in.
  • Religious Value: For religions around the world, paintings can illustrate their beliefs (like portraying gods and goddesses).
  • Symbolic Value: Paintings are uniquely suited to communicating ideas and, in some cases, distill complex concepts into symbols that can be understood across language barriers and cultures.
  • Personal Value: Paintings, especially today’s paintings, are often a deeply personal communication. When an artist creates a painting, they express their worldview, their culture, their stories, and their imagination with the world. The more you can relate to a painting, the more value you will give it.

What Determines the Value of a Painting?

Here’s a list of some qualities that make a painting worth more money:

  • Artist: An artist’s popularity, backstory, and death will greatly influence the cost of a painting.
  • Materials: Generally speaking, canvas works are typically worth more than those on paper and paintings are often at higher values than sketches or a print.
  • Condition: A painting’s physical condition is an important factor. Tears/rips, paint loss, cracking, water damage, fading, dirt, discoloration, and frame damage can all decrease the value of a painting.
  • Authenticity: A painting that is created directly and personally by a particular artist is worth more than a copy (print) or imitation.
  • Provenance: A record of who the painting belonged to can also be used as a guide to authenticity and quality. If a painting was once owned by a famous collector or came from an esteemed art gallery, the value of the painting will greatly increase.
  • Historical Significance: First, the value of a painting will increase if it had any importance to art history in its genre (category). But world history also affects the value of a painting since it’s often a reflection of cultural, political, economical, social, and military history.
  • Auctions: Just the sudden feeling of excitement bidders can have at an auction, especially if the auctioneer is skilled at making an auction exhilarating, can raise the price of a painting.

How Do You Know if a Painting Is Valuable?

If you’re really serious about knowing if a certain painting is valuable, find an art appraiser at a gallery, museum, or auction house (or just google “art appraiser near me“).

A certified art appraiser is trained to determine the authenticity and value of art, including paintings. They work with other art experts to compare paintings and to find similarities and differences that make the painting unique.

They’ll also look at the condition of the painting for any physical flaws.

If the painting is authentic and in good condition, they’ll do an evaluation of the market. They’ll look at former sales by the same artist, works in the same genre, the climate of the market in general, and the current demand for the artist.

All of this will allow the appraiser to give you a professional opinion of what the painting is worth.

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What Makes a Painting a Masterpiece?

Critics of art and have long debated the question of what raises a piece of art to masterpiece status.

But basically, the agreement is that great paintings share 3 qualities:

  • Power: The work is so original that it overwhelms us with its outstanding quality. Just one look at the painting has the power to move you and can impact you in a way that’s almost indescribable.
  • Stands the Test of Time: To be a masterpiece, a painting must continue to be important and respected for a long period of time.
  • Ground-Breaking: It changes the course of art history forever. It’s a painting that’s fresh, remarkable, and something that hasn’t been seen before.

Although you might not have millions to splurge a masterpiece, you can buy prints of masterpieces from iCanvas (my favorite site to buy inexpensive but high-quality prints of famous paintings).