How To Tell If A Painting Is Valuable

Unless you are an art collector, you likely have paintings in your home or office because of aesthetic appeal. Some smart buyers have even invested a few dollars at a second-hand store and turned it into millions overnight thanks to their lucky find and a sense of curiosity about the paintings. It is normally an appraiser’s sharp attention to detail that uncovers the artwork’s true value. If you have artwork hanging around your house or want to learn more about a purchase, here is how to tell if a painting is valuable.

  1. Learn More About the Artist

One of the simplest ways to differentiate between a run-of-the-mill painting and a masterpiece is to learn more about the artist. Some names stand out, so appraisers know it is worth it to dig a bit deeper into the painting’s history simply because of who painted it.

Even for the names that appraisers do not recognize, research is a critical stage of assessment because an artist’s unique style, life experiences, or popularity will add to a painting’s value. A little-known artist may also one day grow in popularity and value.

  1. Learn About Previous Owners

Another influence in the appraisal assessment stage is to find out who owned a painting over its lifetime.  If the painting came from a highly regarded person, the likelihood of a painting increasing in value can occur simply because the owner saw something special.

The identity of owners can also add to a painting’s value because of one’s reputation. If it is a piece that your family has had for decades, working with an appraiser will help you find the answers and authenticate value. Doing a bit of research can also locate previous owners.

  1. Examine the Art’s Subject

Assessing a painting’s subject is an indicator of value. Painters, like writers or sculptors, tell unique stories by choosing subjects that relate to their societies. Historically, some subjects that were controversial increased interest and were coveted by art buyers and collectors.

The Italian Baroque artist Caravaggio’s work Death of a Virgin was rejected by the fathers at Rome’s Santa Maria Della Scala in 1606 because of modesty yet today sits in the Louvre in Paris. Censorship is one of the reasons it is considered a masterpiece among art collectors.

  1. Analyze the Frame’s Construction

While most buyers consider a painter’s framing as the final touch, when and how it was made can add considerable value if it is original to the timeframe the painting was created. Some collectors choose to reframe a painting, which may or may not affect value depending on its construction. If a frame is worn, an appraiser may suggest reframing by using one from the same painter or historical period, which helps retain or increase its grade or value.

  1. Grade A Painting’s Condition

Regardless of whether you are buying a Rembrandt or a little-known artist at the local art gallery, you need to know how to assess the condition of a painting. Issues like cracks, paint discolorations, and canvas perforations will always affect a painting’s value. While many things can be repaired, the lower the grade a painting has, the less money it will be worth.

  1. Determine What Materials Were Used

From a painting’s scale to the materials and colors used can affect value. Canvasses are valued higher than artwork on wood or paper. Early painters used tempera and encaustic paint while during the Renaissance Period, painters used oil-based paints. Today, trendy artists like Banksy uses aerosols and stencils to create highly collectible modern street art.

  1. Check The Back of the Painting

The information on the back of a painting can be highly valuable in determining worth. Artists added signatures beginning around the 15th-century, but museums, auction houses, appraisers, and painters tend to add notes to a painting’s backside to document the details.

If you have a painting that you would like to learn more about, you can call our office at 617-948-2577 to schedule an appointment or visit our Facebook page at