Old masters and new market. Part 1
ARTinvestment.RU   16 июля 2020

AI begins with a detailed story about the art market of the old masters

it So happened, what about the old masters of the global art market remembers with regularity 8-10 years, mainly in the periods between economic recessions. A limited number of high-quality works, the dominant emotional component in the actions of collectors and relatively low annual growth rate of cost (average below 5 %) determine the long-term holding period, and in the amount of — desire to part with the masterpiece only in exceptional cases. However, after the next recession, the emergence of old masters at auction and in private transactions triggers that increased customer demand: it arises from a desire to protect their assets from possible economic fluctuations before the next crisis.

In the coming months, we expect that many investors will turn to the old masters market in search of stability. AI is committed to help readers understand this segment of the market, get basic knowledge about the subject, its price characteristics, and to avoid common mistakes in the practice of the art of the old masters. The first article of this series provides a concise insight into the essence of the issue.

What is the art of the old masters?

the Term "old master" often refers to the European works Dating from approximately 1400-х (the emergence of secular art) until the mid-1800-х (the emergence of impressionism) years. It is important to remember that the "old masters" — is the generic name, which unites artists of several centuries, from different periods and styles. The latter include, in particular, romanticism, Renaissance (early, high, Gothic, Venetian, Spanish, Northern etc.), Baroque, Dutch Golden age, Rococo and Neoclassicism. The word "master" is traditionally ascribed to the most famous and historically recognized artists such as Rembrandt, Rubens, Caravaggio, Michelangelo, Bruegel, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Vermeer, and others.

What determines the value of the works of old masters?

According to experts of the leading auction houses, supported by the statistics of the estimate and the final sales results, value of old masters depends on the following seven factors, which are given to us in reverse order — from least-significant (affecting the final grade the result of the transaction) to the most important:

• quality work;

• provenance;

• the rarity factor;

• the condition of;

• material and equipment;

• the authenticity of the;

• the name of the artist.

Consider these factors separately.

1. The quality of the work

the Most subjective aspect of assessment, because the formula for determining the quality does not exist (not to be confused with the state of preservation). However, this term often appears in the overseas evaluation reports on works of the old masters. The closest definition of "quality" — artistic value of the object. In other words, is the level of realization of the idea of the artist using his skills — in particular, the composition, lines, shapes, use of light andcolor. Note that the quality of work is not always tied to a widely recognized artists: often high-quality art objects belong to the brush of little-known authors.

2. Provenance

Provenance — is a history of the work since its creation (and sometimes earlier, if the story of creation is known and especially if it is associated with historical events, persons or carries a different time stamp) to be placed on the current sale. The provenance marked all the known exhibitions and auctions, lists of owners, among which the presence of famous people (from public figures to the Royal family) can increase the market value of the work several times.

3. The rarity factor

Alas, time — is the enemy of art than the works of older, the more they are rare among similar objects — because of their premature damage or destruction. The concept of "rarity" also includes the historical significance of the works in the artist, the uniqueness of the material used in the creation of absence at the time of sale of such works of the artist are in private collections (and only in museums), etc.

4. The state of preservation

it Might sound sudden, but against the works of the old masters, the state of preservation is not a major factor in determining the value of work. Usually, the pristine state of the job (neotrestavrirovannym with fade away with time colors, centuries-old blackened varnish or a layer of dust) greatly increases its value. Serious collectors prefer to buy these things and trust them only "their" restorers. So sometimes when displaying work for sale restorations simply removed. What should I look for a collector in the proposed work (if suddenly invited them mandatory the independent expert's late!): traces of retouching, preservation, craquelure (cracks of the paint and/or lacquer layer, typically caused by a failure of technology priming the canvas or the application of paint layers by the artist or by storage conditions), damage to the wood frame.

5. Material and technology

On the art market there is a certain hierarchy among the materials and techniques of work, where a canvas and oil occupy the top, most valuable, position. However, in the case of old masters this hierarchy is much more complicated and not so obvious. At different times the artists used various materials and techniques: tempera, oil on boards, oil on canvas, drawing on paper (in particular, in the list of ten most expensive works of old masters — two of Raphael's on paper, in the amount sold for $85,1 million). However, works created in oil on canvas or Board, often reach to the best safety in comparison with drawings on paper.

6. Authenticity

the Authenticity and authorship are the most important factors in assessing the value of works of the old masters. The process of authentication includes only identification of authorship, but also the creation date, and country of origin of a work of art. Sometimes to confirm the specialists have to deal with the attribution — the attribution of the newly found, previously unknown in the catalogues or archival work.Few people know that the authenticity of international practice has its graduation — these range from the indisputable sole authorship to genuine fakes.

7. The name of the artist

the artist's Name may head the list of the most powerful factors in the value of the work — in case of confirmed authorship, and to close it — if the authorship is questionable. The authors, who traditionally are considered old masters, are divided into values — first, second, etc., and the appearance on the market of works of authors of the first magnitude is always a rare and extraordinary event, which is often accompanied by record sales. Suffice it to say that in the list of ten most expensive works of old masters, when-либо sold at public auction to date, there are only six names on it (who is, you will learn from the second part of the material).

What can we understand about the authenticity from the auction catalog, what I didn't tell auction house?

In the auction catalog the art of the old masters collector can see next to the name of the artist minor labels, which are legally fixed for the auction house the right to maneuver in case if the work will be forged. In fact, these labels indicate the degree of confidence of the auction, the authorship ascribed to this or that work. Let us examine these inscriptions in more detail:

• "Author" (eng. — By): if the name of the artist artworks is the official art and auction house de-факто acknowledge that the work done by the hand of the artist. Accordingly, in the case of establishing the forgery of the collector will be most protected in a dispute with the seller;

• "Attributed (who-либо)" (eng. — Attributed to): artwork, most likely made by the artist, at least in part. But auction house experts are not sure about it 100 percent;

• "Studio" or "Workshop" (eng. — Studio of / Workshop of): work made in the workshop of the artist, possibly under his leadership. The author, according to art historians and auction houses, not the artist himself, and the apprentice (which could then be repeatedly challenged). It is in this category can escape the so-called "dormant masterpieces" — work for a long time attributed to the student, and subsequently attributed to the master himself. However, in this case the product will not fall into the "upper tier" of authenticity, but only do the step above in the hierarchy;

• "Follower" (eng. — Follower of): the product is made in the manner of the artist (but not necessarily a disciple or someone-либо who worked directly with the master);

• "Circle" (eng. — Circle of): the piece is created during the life of the artist and reflects his creative influence on contemporary authors;

• "Manner" (eng. — Manner of): a work executed in artist's style but not in his lifetime, and later;

• "explanation" (eng. — After): the work is a copy of a known work of the master (usually done by another author without malice or fraud);

• "School" (eng. — School of): the work included in a unifying circle of art (formally recognized at the time of creation of the work, and created by art historians much later).

the distribution of the works of the old masters "marked"at auctions Sotheby's and Christie's in 2019


the Number of lots,
























"In explanation"






As you can see from the above table, the highest amount taken at auction belongs to the works with the most confirmed authorship. Next, in descending order of relevance followed by the work of his contemporaries, having independent art value, and only then — pupils and imitators of the manner of writing of the artist. The least valuable from the point of view of the demand represent the work created in the style of the author, but much later period of his active work.

In the next part we will talk about figures of the old masters market — auction sales, distribution of lots by value and country of origin of the artists.

Attention! All materials of the site and database of auction results ARTinvestment.RU, including illustrated reference information about the works sold at auctions, are intended for use exclusively for informational, scientific, educational and cultural purposes in accordance with Art. 1274 of the Civil Code. Use for commercial purposes or in violation of the rules established by the Civil Code of the Russian Federation is not allowed. ARTinvestment.RU is not responsible for the content of materials submitted by third parties. In case of violation of the rights of third parties, the site administration reserves the right to remove them from the site and from the database on the basis of an application from an authorized body.

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