Key Considerations for Pricing Art
Is the artwork an original? (vs. a photo or a print multiple)
If you are certain you have an original oil, watercolor, or sculpture - or a signed and/or numbered work by the artist, proceed with the other valuation questions. If you are unsure, we suggest you let a local frame shop or art gallery help you determine if you have an original work versus a reproduction. (Prints, photographs, and reproductions are mediums where we regret we are unable to help with valuation).
Look for a legible signature or notation on the artwork, including the back, and also on the bottom if it is a sculpture. If you are unable to determine the artist’s name, you might provide photos (or jpgs) to dealers and auction houses (not museums) carrying similar works. Click here
for a link to find information about styles and groups of interest, which may help you to discover your artist.
What's the artwork size, subject matter, year painted?
The size of an artwork is very often a factor in its value.
In addition, some artists are especially known for certain subject matter.
If an artwork contains quintessential details, it may be more valuable.
The year the work was painted is relevant as well, as many artists have their 'peak' most valuable periods.
Is the artwork a sculpture?
In addition to looking for notation of a signature on the work, it is important to note any markings identifying the foundry, and the edition number of the work.
All else equal, a sculpture will likely be more valuable if it is one of only 6 cast, as opposed to being one of 600.
What is the condition of the artwork?
The condition of your artwork will make a significant difference to its value.
Look for any rips, or signs of in-painting, or over-cleaning.
Has the work been relined? Have the colors faded, or is there water damage?
Often an ideal situation is when an artwork has never been touched up, even though it might need cleaning badly.
You may need advice from a restorer to determine what condition your art is in, especially if it is an older work.
What is the Provenance? (i.e. history of ownership)
Knowing the lineage of ownership and exhibition history can add to the value of your artwork.
Useful to establishing provenance, or 'history' of an artwork include: the original bill of sales; correspondence about the piece; exhibition stickers attached to the frame; notes by the artist, sometimes found on the back of the work; statements from people who knew the artist or circumstances of the painting.
These must mention the painting specifically enough for it to be identified, not in vague or broad terms.
What facts support pricing? (i.e. auction records, signatures, dealer interest, etc.)
Use our search tools to find your artist. Visitors who become Subscriber members
have access to all the valuable data listed below.
Auction records and results. Look for Auction History or Auctions Upcoming information for your artist.
Please note: some artists may not have any historical or upcoming auction records, so please study our summary menu for each artist before assuming we have data.
Biographical info. Look at the "Biography" link for background information about your artist, their training, exhibits, etc.
Dealers and galleries. Look for the dealers who carry your artist, and their "For Sale" or "Wanted" ads, and consider contacting them for their opinions on valuation.
Museums. Look at the list of "Museums" that might list your artist, for a sense of where he/she might stand in importance in the museum art world. We do not, however, recommend contacting museums directly with inquiries, unless you are certain your artwork is of museum quality.
Publications. Look for the "Books" and "Magazines" that have included your artist. The more listed, the better.
General facts. Look at the "Quick Facts" to find a broad overview about your artist.
Our auction records go back close to 20 years, and cover the prices an artist may have obtained at auction, including presale estimates, sizes, titles, and images of the artworks.