The smart collector

Research essential to gauge the market for artwork

2014-01-12T00:00:00Z 2014-07-03T12:18:35Z Research essential to gauge the market for artworkBy Danielle Arnet The Smart Collector Arizona Daily Star
January 12, 2014 12:00 am  • 

Q: We have two large museum-mounted ink etchings by Jose Miguel Pardo of Spain. In the late 1980s, he was the most sought after surrealist artist; his paintings sold for tens of thousands of dollars. I have little knowledge of the art market. How can I sell them?

A: Our reader adds that he was given the pieces by a foreign exchange student whom he hosted. The young man happened to be the son of the artist. The art was a thank-you gift.

I infer that the glowing information on the artist was supplied by the son. Unfortunately, while researching, I found no hard facts to support the comments above.

When one has little to zero knowledge of the art market, digging becomes essential. For modest fees, any smart collector can access the same databases that art and auction pros use.

In this case, data on prices realized at auction showed that two of the artist’s oils painted on board failed to sell in a 1992 auction in Spain. An oil on canvas titled “Man of La Mancha” sold in a 2009 Pennsylvania auction (the consigner was related to the artist) for $250.

So yes, there is a track record of sales — sort of — but it’s not a hot market. I suggest sending images of the works to several auction houses that also sell online; your prospective buyer may well be international. Include background info. The fact that you received the art directly from the artist enhances saleability.

See what responses you get. Then you can make a smart decision.

Q: What can you tell me about this wood block print by a German artist named E. Volkhart, 1852?

A: The image seen in a photo sent is a framed print, but it is not a wood block. Depicted are figures in Shakespearean costume posed around a standing woman dressed in black. She has a ruff around her neck. An old gentleman with flowing cape kneels before her.

Everything about the piece has the look of work by Max Volkhart, a German genre painter who lived from 1848 to 1935. Perhaps the reader misread the initial.

His original oils done on canvas or wood are not considered fine art, but they were popular up to the first half of the 1900s. One of his paintings sold at auction this year for $7,000.

In sum, Volkhart was a commercial success whose paintings have spawned legions of diverse prints. He is especially known for his depiction of 18th and 19th century costumes.

We found new commercial Volkhart prints for sale online at $40-$50.

The framing method indicates that the reader’s print is 20th century. Value is as a decorative piece. The nice framing might boost it to slightly more.

A disclaimer: It’s impossible to give an accurate reading, certainly for a print, from a single photograph. The back also needs to be seen. A print specialist who can remove the frame and take a closer look is your best bet.

Danielle Arnet welcomes questions from readers. She cannot respond to each one individually, but will answer those of general interest in her column. Send email to smartcollector@comcast.net

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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