How much is an old painting worth? Ten golden rules to know your price Antiques 11/10/2022

Surely on more than one occasion you have wondered how you could find out the value of an old painting, which has always been in your house, you have just inherited, or you simply want to get one.

Well, here we leave you with some very basic notions, but sooo useful, such as the ten most important golden rules to keep in mind when knowing what the value of your old painting could be.

1st Rule. The higher the quality, the better it sells.

This should always be the first rule. In theory, the more artistic quality a painting has, the higher its price. However, since the knowledge needed to value and aesthetically appreciate a painting is not usually possessed by everyone, they must take into account other series of factors (such as those that you will see below), which also have an influence and in many cases they weigh more than the actual quality of the painting itself.

2nd Rule. The better known the painter, the higher his price.

A signed painting will always sell better than an anonymous one, and the better known the painter is, the better. In addition, if there is information about his life, other paintings, they appear in art auctions or there are references to their sales, the chances of sale increase even more. And if he has a painting hanging in a museum, I won't even tell you.

Sometimes it often happens that antique dealers or gallery owners are unable to recognize an anonymous work at first sight, but otherwise they perfectly dominate signatures, prices and the prices associated with them.

3rd Rule. A local painter sells more than non-locals.

Well… what do we mean by this? Very simple. A painting, for example, of a good disciple of Joaquín Sorolla will sell better in Valencia than in Galicia, since he is a better known painter in these first lands, and therefore there will be more people willing to buy it, since he identifies more with what represented.

With this, what we intend to tell you is that you should always try to sell a painting in the painter's homeland, or where he developed his artistic career, for that reason to have greater profitability. The exception is Madrid, since it is the capital of the art market in Spain, where there are hundreds of art auctions a year and it is very strong for everything.

4th Rule. If the painting is something local and recognizable, it will be sold sooner and better.

It is the continuation of the previous paragraph. Any antique dealer or gallery owner who tells you that a view or landscape of something very recognizable or emblematic of your city (a building, a square, a monument...) appears in the work will be sold before and much better than any other painting, it may even that even better quality for a reason beyond your control. And it is that people like to have in their homes views of their streets, of their town or city, in short, anything that is close to them and they see in their day to day.

5th Rule. The more beautiful and pleasant the subject, the better the painting sells.

Here is another fundamental rule. An attractive country landscape will always sell better than a dark interior or just a view of an alley. In this case, even if the landscape is by an unknown painter, and the other was painted by a renowned painter, believe me, the landscape will be sold sooner. And it is that many times if what appears represented is beautiful, it can even hide the little pictorial quality that it has.

A good example would be: they inherit the portrait of a fat man, bald, with a mustache, dressed in black and with a serious face, this one, unless it is their grandfather and they are very fond of him, not even their grandchildren hang it. However, if what we have is the nude of a young woman or the portrait of a beautiful girl, then things change.

6th Rule. Religious painting is valued less.

There are fewer and fewer who want to see saints with the faces of little angels and ecstasy at home, and much less have to endure scenes of martyrs skinned alive, blood and various offal. That is why in general, religious painting costs more to sell.

Art appraisal experts agree on the following exceptions: tender scenes from the childhood of Jesus, such as the Holy Family or landscapes of the flight to Egypt, young and graceful saints, such as the Saints of Zurbarán, scenes that lend themselves to luxury and brilliance, such as the Adoration of the Magi, etc.

7th Rule. Tables with documented histories are a plus point.

All those paintings that can be traced either through old family photographs in which they appear, or through wills, sales receipts or inventories are much easier to sell. Experts in painting auctions need a documentary source to hold on to, since their authenticity is verified and that is a point in favor of both the buyer and the seller.

8th Rule. Paintings that hide remarkable stories are more attractive.

Every painting that has an interesting story behind it, whether it is an anecdote of the painter, or of its owners, has added value, since that little story gives it a more attractive and romantic aura.

9th Rule. Here size matters.

We usually think that the bigger the painting, the more it should be worth, however, this rule has its exceptions, and that is, for example, in the case of paintings with an excessive size, they are more difficult to sell than any other smaller one. , for the simple reason that nowadays houses tend to be smaller, with lower ceilings and therefore walls with less hanging space. Today that someone has a big house with a huge wall completely empty is difficult to see.

Otherwise the paintings with a medium or small size are easier to fit so they have comparatively more output. In the past, unscrupulous art dealers did not hesitate to divide a large painting into several smaller ones, and therefore easier to sell, completely destroying a work of art.

10th Rule. The more original it is and the less restored it is, the better.

It sounds a bit contradictory, but we base it on the fact that many artistic works have undergone multiple restorations that have completely altered, repainted or patinated the paintings, seriously changing their true original appearance. Hence, experts in art appraisals agree that a painting that is as little altered as possible and that best preserves its original state is preferable.