Thursday 5 July 2007

Landscape + irish setter + pheasant = Dollars

A recent post on Free Exchange, one of The Economist's blogs, highlighted Tyler Cowen's discussion of the factors that determine the price of art, featured in his recent book Discover Your Inner Economist. These include:

  1. Landscapes can triple in value when there are horses or figures in the foreground. Evidence of industry usually lowers a picture’s value.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Water adds value to a picture, but only if it is calm. Shipwrecks are a no-no.

Read the full post

Meanwhile, in the Art Newspaper, Richard Feigen looks at the overheated art market, and points out that several areas - including 16th and 17th century Italian, French and Flemings and the 18th and 19th-century British - seem to have remained immune to crazy price hikes.

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