Last month’s newsletter sparked a couple of questions.
Lew wrote: I do have a question based upon the article about collections, with a different interpretation. Is a collection (meaning several paintings by the same artist) in the possession of a collector worth more than a single piece?
To begin, a group of paintings by an artist would be worth more than one painting … assuming all the works were of equal quality. However, if you want to know if the value of a specific painting would be different if it were offered individually or as part of a collection of paintings then my answer is probably not.
I know that in other ‘markets’ this may be the case. A good example would be the rare/antique book market. If you were looking to acquire a complete series of Paris Salon exhibition catalogues from the 19th century, or you wanted an entire artist’s catalogue raisonné that was published in multiple volumes over a period of time … you would pay less if you bought them individually than if someone had the entire run or complete catalogue raisonné. In these cases, the whole is often worth more than the individual parts.
In the art world, other than when the ‘celebrity factor’ kicks in, I have never seen this happen. Most people look at works of art for their individual beauty and what one person likes another may not … even within a particular artist’s output. When a collection appears on the market, it is rarely sold as a single item. Each work is usually sold individually and prices achieved are usually based on all the normal factors – quality, period, size, subject matter, condition, etc.
Now I am not going to say that obtaining a premium price for an entire collection of a specific artist’s work is something that can never happen. If, for example, you happen to have a complete collection of a single artist’s work and, when you decide to sell, you happen to find the one person who wants a collection of that artist’s work (at that exact moment) and they loved all the works in your collection, you would probably obtain a premium price. But let’s be real, what are the odds that all those factors would align themselves on the day you wanted to sell?
Within any artist’s career there will be different periods and styles. In order to create maximum value for a collection, you need to make sure that you buy the best quality works that are available from the different periods of that artist. Some periods will always be more expensive and desirable than others, but that does not mean that a collector should just dismiss the less collected/valued periods – just be sure that you buy great works and everything else (value and future salability) should take care of itself in the long run.
Another reader, Jolene, wrote: I just read your recent "Comments on the Art Market #69" and I was thinking that Carolyn was asking if the value of a painting is increased if it's exhibited in a collection (i.e., on loan in an exhibit at a noted art museum). Again, I may be off base about what she was asking, but it seemed to be the case to me. In fact, that IS a good question … what if we loan some of our more valuable paintings to a museum at some point to be on display; does THAT raise the value as part of its "provenance" (history)?
As you all know, we are big supporters of the idea that collectors need to allow museums the opportunity to exhibit their works from time to time. Many great paintings make short appearances on the market when they are bought / sold … and often, sales are done so fast and quietly that scholars and collectors never get a chance to study the work/works. In many instances, scholars often do not even know of their existence.
The fact that a particular painting was exhibited in a museum show, in and of itself, would not really add a great deal to its value. Again, prices are usually based on all the factors noted earlier and not on the fact that a work was on loan to a specific show or museum. However, allowing other collectors and scholars the ability to study great works by artists they may not have otherwise known about, can cause a reassessment of that artist’s work and the relationships they may have had with other artists … both in terms of how they were influenced and who they influenced. If this happens, then the value of your work/works should increase because of the loan. So loaning works to museum exhibitions is a good thing for everyone.
Fifteen years ago we started working on the Julien Dupré catalogue raisonné when little was known about this important Realist artist. While we are still in the research stage (though I have begun writing the text), we are definitely seeing a reevaluation of his work. Over the past few years a number of our collectors have loaned their important, and rarely seen, works to museum exhibits and scholars have begun reassessing the influences Dupré had on other artists and the importance of his work during the late 19th century. An exhibition at the University of Kentucky opened last month and a number of works by Dupré are featured. This month the Van Gogh exhibition opens in Dallas and two great Dupré paintings will also be featured. As other exhibitions of the period are formulated, more of Dupré’s works will be presented to the public. This, in turn, will increase his reputation in both the commercial and academic circles and should have a positive impact on the value of his works.
One caveat to all of this is when an artist exhibited in a show that made him/her, or a movement, famous. A great example is the 1913 Armory Show in New York City; heralded as the first international exhibition of Modern Art in America. Both established and avant-garde European and American artists exhibited and because of that show, many rose to the forefront of the Modern Art movement. If you had two, basically identical, works by an artist and one was featured in that specific show, the market would attach a premium to it.
A Romance with the Landscape: Realism to Impressionism
On September 10th the exhibition A Romance with the Landscape: Realism to Impressionism opened that the University of Kentucky Art Museum, Lexington, Kentucky. This exciting exhibition of nineteenth-century French landscape paintings and works on paper not only features three paintings by Julien Dupré, In the Pasture, The Harvester and Returning Home, but two of them were chosen to grace the front and back covers of the exhibition catalog.
Along with the Dupré paintings are four works by Charles François Daubigny and one Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot depicting lush Barbizon idylls, and sun-dappled Impressionist masterworks by Monet and Renoir. The show and related catalogue examine key developments in the landscape tradition during the period, among them plein air painting and the treatment of the figure in the landscape. A Romance with the Landscape will bring together rarely seen works from private and public collections.
In addition to the University of Kentucky Art Museum’s own works by Bertin, Daubigny, Dupré, Isabey and others, public and private lenders are contributing work by artists such as Corot, Rousseau, Millet, Gibert and Huet. Among the public institutions lending to the exhibition are the Huntington Museum of Art; The Speed Museum of Art; Berea College; and the Indiana University Art Museum in Bloomington.
The exhibition was organized by Janie Welker, UK Art Museum’s Curator of Exhibitions and Collections, and art historian Linda Stratford, Lilly Scholar at Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky.
The accompanying catalogue features essays by noted scholar Gabriel Weisberg, professor of art history at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis and the author of numerous books and articles on art and artists of nineteenth and early twentieth century France; Stratford, a specialist in the history of art in French society; and Janet Whitmore, who teaches at Harrington College of Design in Chicago.
This catalogue can be purchased on the Books page of our web site for $27.50 which includes packing and shipping. New York State residence must add appropriate sales tax.
We have a nice selection of books available on our web site. All are new copies and many are in very limited supply:
A Romance with the Landscape – Gabe Weisberg (Kentucky Show)
Diaz de la Pena – catalogue raisonné – Pierre Miquel – taking pre-orders
Gallery Updates: We are very pleased to inform you that since our last sales update, the following works have found, or are in the process of finding, new homes: Eugene Boudin’s Trouville, Le Port, and L'entree du port, Dieppe; Daniel Ridgway Knight’s Dolce far Niente ; Emile Munier’s Girl with Basket of Oranges, Julien Dupré’s Une Prairie; Marias-Milton’s Education, Holly Banks’ Peonies; Joan Miro’s La Ralentie, and Le Vieil Irlandais; Edouard Cortès’s Le sud de la France, and Interieur, effet de lampe.
Web Site Updates: New works by the following artists have been added to the web site: Pierre Edouard Frère, Paul D. Trouillebert, Eugene Petit, Harry Hall, Sally Swatland, Gregory Harris, and John Kuhn.
We have also added a Bouguereau Virtual Exhibition to the web site: