Beyond the Name of the Artist : Why the Subject Matter, Matters.

People often buy works of art based on the name alone. They mistakenly believe that if an artist is famous they are making a solid choice and that the work of art will maintain or increase in value over the years. The appraiser must often be the one to inform the owner that while is work is indeed by Monet it is not worth $3,000,000.00 but closer to $300,000.00

Certainly the stature of an artist within his period is of great importance, however, equally important is the subject that the artist has chosen to depict. Almost every well known artist has an acknowledged "hierarchy of subject matter" that the discerning collector or investor would do well to study. It is this specific expertise that the qualified appraiser applies in reaching a value conclusion.

For example Eugene Boudin (French, 1824-1898) was, as his Wikipedia entry states was: "one of the first French landscape painters to paint outdoors. Boudin was a marine painter, and expert in the rendering of all that goes upon the sea and along its shores. His pastels, summary and economic, garnered the splendid eulogy of Baudelaire; and Corot called him the "king of the skies".

From this brief description one might conclude that a scene of a harbor or waves crashing on a beach might be just the thing to buy, and indeed the artist produced many splendid examples of these subjects during his lifetime. However, the most prized and highly valued work by Boudin today are small scale paintings referred to as "Crinoline Pictures", which depict elegantly attired women and men on the shore, often with striped changing tents in the background. The actual ocean is seldom in evidence and the sky is rarely an active element of the composition.  These works trade regularly at auction in the $500,000.00 to $1,500,000.00 range. A more traditional beach or harbor scene of similar size would sell for between $50,000.00 to $100,000.00 today.

Whether you are purchasing, selling, insuring or donating a work of art, a specialist appraiser can assist you in making these critical distinctions.