Friday, August 17, 2007

Advice to collectors 13

This from economist, Tyler Cowan

  • Landscapes can triple in value when there are horses or figures in the foreground. Evidence of industry usually lowers a picture’s value.
  • A still life with flowers is worth more than one with fruit. Roses stand at the top of the flower hierarchy. Chrysanthemums and lupines (seen as working class) stand at the bottom.
  • There is a price hierarchy for animals. Purebred dogs help a picture more than mongrels do. Spaniels are worth more than collies. Racehorses are worth more than carthorses. When it comes to game birds the following rule of thumb holds: the more expensive it is to shoot the bird, the more the bird adds to the value of the painting. A grouse is worth more than a mallard, and the painter should show the animal from the front, not the back.
  • Water adds value to a picture, but only if it is calm.
  • Round and oval works are extremely unpopular with buyers.
  • For any given artist, the bigger the painting, the higher the price tag in the gallery … This may seem a dumb selling strategy: why not charge more for the paintings which appear to be the best? (The gallery is supposed to be a judge of good and bad, after all.) The answer seems to be that if the gallery indicates by its pricing which paintings it believes to be “good”, interest in the “bad” ones will be so diminished, that the gallery is better off pretending that all paintings in a show are equally good.”