James Tarmy makes the case for Victorian art on Bloomberg. His point is that there are precious few artists with secondary markets and market history. Add to that a large supply and some new dealers emerging in the space. That should present some great opportunities:Continue Reading
The Washington Post has yet another story of a valuable painting found in unlikely circumstances. This one was an unlocked vacation home that contained a Victorian painting by William Powell Frith whose early version of Derby Day will be auctioned in London in December with a £500k estimate:
It had been hanging in a modest New England beach house for decades before a friend of the owner suggested it might be worth something. Christie’s won’t be more specific about the location because the owner wants to remain anonymous.
Brown said the vendor, who is in his 60s, believes his parents bought the painting some time before World War II, when Victorian art was often dismissed as garish and sentimental.
“It’s a testament to the change in fortunes of Victorian pictures over the last century that these things could have been acquired very cheaply indeed in the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s,” said Brown.
Since the 1970s, critical opinion has changed, and works by the best Victorian artists are coveted by collectors.
The Guardian art critic Jonathan Jones isn’t warning Contemporary art collectors about the evanescence of value in this brief post about Victorian art. That doesn’t mean collectors shouldn’t take notice of the implications contained within this comparison.
Britain is saddled with an enormous legacy of Victorian art. There was a profound enthusiasm for art in 19th-century Britain. Just as today, people were passionate about the artists of their own time. There were new movements such as Pre-Raphaelitism and Aestheticism. Just as today, artists became rich, as you can see if you visit Lord Leighton’s house in west London. And just as today, the monied bought new art. In those days the money was in Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool – and so Britain’s regional city galleries ended up with vast collections of Pre-Raphaelite art that are often their most abundant and prominent exhibits.
What Jones doesn’t say is that those holdings of Victorian art are often also without great value either in monetary or art historical terms. Victorian art has punctuated moments of excitement on the art market. Interest in it goes in and out of style among the public. But it has failed to gain a secure and lasting place which suggests there’s no guarantee that today’s most sought-after artists will be different.
Why I’ve Re-discovered Victorian Art (Jonathan Jones/Guardian)
Howard L. Rehs is a dealer in New York. He specializes in 19th Century pictures but he keeps a broader eye out on the art market. Here’s his latest report:
First up was Bonhams’ 19th Century Paintings, Drawing and Watercolours in London; a sale divided into two sections: 19th Century Paintings and Victorian Paintings.
The 19th Century Paintings section offered 71 works and there were just as many hits as misses. This section produced two of the highest prices for the sale: Sorolla’s portrait of Raquel Meller which was estimated at £150-£200K and sold at £180K ($284K) and F.M. Kruseman’s Winter landscape with skaters near a castle … a rather large and fine example (although it was unsigned) that made £156K ($246K) – one of the top prices achieved by the artist at auction. Of the 71 works offered here, 30 failed to find buyers leaving this section with a sell-through rate of just 57.7%.
The Victorian works seemed to do a bit better with 100 works offered and 74 sold for a sell-through rate of 74% and the top lot being Clausen’s The Flower Seller, Trafalgar Square at £78K ($123K). When combined, the entire sale saw 171 works offered with 115 sold for a combined sell-through rate of 67.2% and a total take of £1.78M ($2.8M) – the expected range was £1.71M – £2.46M so they made the range, but only after the buyer’s commission was added in.Continue Reading
You’d have thought that after last year’s disaster, Sotheby’s would have learned their lesson; but NO … they did it again.
On July 13th their Victorian and Edwardian Art auction took place and all I can say to the auctioneers is — this is the wrong time of year for this type of sale. Give the art market a summer vacation; and in case you have not realized this, most people are more concerned about enjoying the outdoors than they are about the interiors of their homes. If you really need to have auctions over the summer, maybe you should think about more summer related themes like: “antique suntan lotion bottles”, “rare cruise ship deck chairs” or “historic air conditioning units” — things people might have interest in during the summer!!
I know we need to cover this sale; but it is really going to hurt, so be prepared – and keep in mind that last year (2009) I stated that their sale had: an embarrassing sell-through rate of just 48.8% and a total take of £3M ($4.92M) and this year’s was worse!Continue Reading