Excerpt from the Journal of Advanced Appraisal Studies - 2010

Time for another excerpt from the 2010 edition of the Journal of Advanced Appraisal Studies. Art appraiser Judy Nelson, ISA AM writes an articled entitled Reading a Two-Dimensional Artwork: Suggestions for the Generalist Appraiser.

This article, similar to last weeks article by Brian Kahtenes on coins and stamps is meant to be a guide in assisting the generalist appraiser.  They are to be used as a tool to assist in determining the level of quality and condition and scope of work for the generalist appraiser.  The generalist needs basic levels of knowledge to assess assignments and also needs to know his or her own competencies for when to consult with an expert.

I very much liked Judy's article and the way she describes how to look at a painting. Next weeks excerpt will be Personal Property Appraising and the Element of Time.

Judy Nelson writes

Generalist, antique and residential contents (ARC) appraisers often
come across works of art in the course of appraising estates or household contents. Most of these works fall within the realm of decorative art valued at under $3,000, but appraisers must be careful not to make assumptions of value based on cursory observations. As noted above, failure to recognize quality artworks and to properly value them not only hurts the client but opens the appraiser to potential legal proceedings.

Fine art appraisers encourage the generalist or ARC appraiser to re-
fer these items to them, not only because they are trained in art identification and evaluation, but also because they have specific knowledge of the unique markets involved and established relationships with art dealers, artists and art specialists.

The objective of this article is to provide some points for those appraisers who do not specialize in art to consider when appraising a work of art. Further, the following remarks pertain to late nineteenth and twentieth century paintings and works on paper. These items – mostly representational rather than abstract - are routinely encountered by the generalist or ARC appraiser in the course of appraising households for various intended uses.

Of course, the ideal art appraisal involves a work by a “first-tier” or
“listed” artist with a recognizable signature, active secondary market and/or gallery representation, auction records, provenance and inclusion in numerous reference materials. However, appraisers often encounter the opposite – a work by an artist for whom there are few or no records to guide the appraiser in establishing a supportable valuation. In this situation, the appraiser may look for comparables based solely or primarily on subject matter, style and approximate date of creation. While this is a start, a more accurate valuation may be obtained by examining and factoring in additional indicators of value.

If there is so little information on the artist, one may ask why an appraisal is either indicated or desired. An appraisal is often needed for insurance coverage or for damage claims. Sometimes the art in question is part of a collection or estate where family members may be seeking a means of equitable distribution. And there is always the client who is curious about the value of a work in his possession.

Another objection that may surface is whether there is, after all, much difference in value between a relatively little-known artist’s work and that of any other artist working in the same style and within the same time frame. Is it worth the extra time it may take the appraiser to evaluate the work? Yes, because the formally-trained professional artist will almost always produce a work which is more successful than the amateur or hobbyist, whose training may run from none to extensive. The professional’s work will command a higher value.
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