Evaluating art in general or for purchase.
I spent a fair amount of time fiddling with some
Chinese and Japanese paintings that needed sorting. Fortunately I have some good help available in London. They represent aesthetics I appreciate but honestly the fine details escape me. The language barrier does not help me at all. The next few months I will be ankle deep in decent and average decorative arts. I hope to find a truffle or two but expect that mostly the work will be good and thats it. In theory the internet should be a help but the truth is closer to this. We have gone well beyond saturation at this point and if the artist has a relatively common name good luck. This happens fairly often when a simple inquiry will result in a large mountain of data hard to imagine actually sifting through.
The traditional themes are very nearly tropes. The contemporary or modern work emerging in these global markets is tough to sort but also very rewarding if you can find a good piece.
When I was 11 I decided I wanted to buy a name 19th century California painting. Carl Dahlgren. A local fixture that was well liked but not always brilliant. I am sure you have noticed how easy it is to spend your money. Finally after much wasted time I ended up with a slightly wicked curator. I think she wanted to be certain I wouldn’t come back. I walked through galleries with his best work. The curator finally had me come to her office. Yes the painting was authentic BUT this was the kind of painting that would diminish his reputation. The subject was weak and the painting left one with a chill as it was a damp sunless day and the air was full of water. California paintings are generally wonderful. Most often you see wonderful light and regardless of size vast landscapes. I guess the lesson if there is one is that the work has to be pleasing and what you would more or less expect. The last concern is the signature.
Most of the work was painted quickly and outside. At the time artists where busy painting and often did not sign much. Many signatures where added about 100 years later. Buy what you love and if possible spend time with it before closing the deal. This request is typical. You might be expected to pay for the painting with the understanding in writing that it can be returned in a day or two. Happy Hunting.