Amanda is a keen artist and art historian with a particular interest in 19th-century art, especially the work of the Pre-Raphaelites.
How to Find Out About Your Old Painting
If you are reading this article, there's a good chance that you may have a treasured old painting at home you've owned for years. Alternatively, you might be curious about something you have inherited or found in a thrift store, charity shop, car boot sale, or junk shop. Maybe you have a work of art lying unwanted in the attic or garage or stashed behind a wardrobe. Whatever the circumstance, the point is that you need to know more about your old picture or painting.
This article offers some practical advice on researching and marketing an old work of art. The vast majority of old paintings, prints, and etchings have a relatively low market value and may be tricky to sell, but don't give up just yet—there are many lost and forgotten masterpieces out there just waiting to be re-discovered.
Please note: I do not offer a valuation service and will not respond to emails asking for online appraisals.
How to Research and Appraise Antique Art
- First, make sure it an original rather than a copy or a print. Examine the piece with a magnifying glass to determine whether it was painted or printed. If the surface is made up of tiny regular dots of colour then it's definitely a print.
- If it is a print, it may still be worth something. Certain limited edition prints are worth more than normal prints. A quick check for similar items on eBay and liveauctioneers.com might be helpful.
- Do not remove the frame from an old piece of art. This can devalue or damage the work. Plus, the frame itself could be valuable.
- To identify the artist, look for a signature, initials, or monogram. There are a number of online resources with artist signatures for comparison.
- Use an online image search or reverse image search to check whether your painting is a copy of an existing artwork. Good quality painted copies are often worth more than prints.
- Once you have identified your artist, check his or her other works online to see what they sell for.
- If your painting is valuable, approach a local auction house. Look for one that specialises in works of art for the best advice.
How to Identify an Original Watercolour Versus a Print
Many years ago, I bought a picture from a junk-sale believing it to be a valuable watercolour. In fact, it was only a print, but it was a very good one. To an inexperienced eye, a good quality print is often very difficult to tell from a watercolour painting, but there are some easy clues.
- Gently clean the glass with a soft cloth, using a tiny amount of glass cleaner only if necessary.
- Use a magnifying glass to look at the picture in greater detail. Brushstrokes are not so obvious on a watercolour as on an oil, but you should still be able to see variation in the surface of the painting. Some areas may be bare of paint altogether, or else be highlighted with a thicker layer of paint known as gouache, or body colour. Some artists also use a technique known as "scratching out," where the surface of the painting is literally scratched to show the white of the paper. You may be able to identify pencil lines beneath the paint, and the picture may show signs of "cockling" where the artist has made his paper too wet without preparing it adequately first.
- If you are still unsure whether you have a painting or a print, look carefully to see if you can identify small dots on the surface. Printmaking has become increasingly sophisticated with the advance of technology, but early prints can usually be readily identified. If the picture is composed of tiny dots of colour, it's extremely unlikely to be a watercolour.
- Check the signature. Printed signatures seldom look truly authentic.
- If your picture has a label on the back giving details of the title and artist, do a search on these details. If you have a print of a well-known painting, you should quickly find it online, and this will confirm that you have a reproduction rather than an original. Labels that give a museum name, such as Museum of Modern Art, NY, Tate Gallery, or Musee du Louvre are a good indication that your picture is a print and is likely to be a low-value item.
How Can I Tell if My Picture Is a Genuine Oil Painting?
- An oil painting can be created on board, canvas, panel, paper, or even ivory.
- Because they tend to be more durable, and less delicate than watercolours, they are not normally behind glass, although there can be exceptions to this.
- A well executed oil painting will usually have a feeling of depth and often a softness about it that is the result of the paint being built up in layers known as "glazes." Modern print techniques have become so sophisticated that prints on canvas are now available, and many of these prints even mimic brushstrokes. However, a close examination will soon sort the prints from the originals. Oil-style prints have a very uniform finish, even the ones with fake brush-strokes.
- If you are still uncertain, examine the frame and backing for clues. A good quality oil painting will usually have an equally good quality frame. Older frames are often extremely heavy, especially when they are ornately carved, or have gilding over plaster moulding for decoration. Modern, reproduction frames are usually lighter in weight and are often put together using modern techniques such as staple guns.
- When you examine the back of your painting look for clues such as old labels and auction numbers. Chalked or pencilled numbers on the reverse of a canvas often indicate that the picture has been through one or more auction houses. If it was worth selling through auction previously, then there is a good chance it will be again.Labels from framers or galleries are also good clues as to age and provenance. If you find such a label, check on-line to see if the framer or gallery still exists. They may be able to help you learn more about your artwork.
- There are a huge volume of oil paintings in circulation that have been painted on production lines in art 'factories'. The best known of these are based at Dafen in China. You can learn more about these by searching Dafen art factories on-line. Sometimes these pictures mimic the style of established artists, but are either unsigned, or signed with a Western sounding name. They are often extremely well painted, and are attractive paintings in their own right. They are not, however, high value items.
How Can I Appraise or Value a Print?
- If you have a limited edition print by a well-known artist, it will often (though by no means always) have a greater value than a genuine painting by an unknown artist. Limited edition prints will normally have the artist's signature accompanied by a number which indicates the position of the picture in the print run, and the total number of prints produced. Never assume that all prints are worthless, as this is definitely not the case. Some very old prints and etchings are extremely valuable. It very much depends on artist, provenance, condition and rarity.
- If you suspect you have such an undiscovered gem you should try to get an expert opinion. The earliest prints were usually either black and white, or sepia in colour, and these can be some of the most valuable. Early prints and etchings are an extremely specialised field, and only an expert can give you the right advice.
- The earliest prints were made using a raised surface which could be inked. These typically included wood block prints, which are generally far cruder and more simplistic than modern lithographic, or photographic, prints. Some of the earliest woodcuts are extremely valuable because of their age and rarity. Many of these woodcuts are very, very basic, but often these are far more valuable than complicated lithographs created in more recent times.
- Many early Japanese prints were created using the woodcut process, and these are highly collectible, even if the signatures are difficult for Western eyes to understand. Woodcuts were popular throughout East Asia well into the 19th century, and some of the earliest examples, printed on cloth, are Chinese in origin. Oriental woodcuts were extremely popular during the 19th century, when they were imported into Europe in great numbers. At that time, to European eyes, they were not just exotic and different, they were something to be admired and were used as a source of inspiration. This can clearly be seen in the work of many of the illustrators and artists working around the end of the 19th century, such as Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Vincent Van Gogh, and Aubrey Beardsley, where clean, uncluttered images became more important than the fussy, highly-detailed work of earlier European artists.
- Even if your picture turns out to be an inexpensive print, don't despair. Try selling it at your local sale room or on eBay. You never know. Someone might just take a shine to it.
How Much Is My Unsigned Black and White Print Worth?
Early prints come in many different guises. If your print is signed and is by a well-known artist, it may well be valuable. Equally, even if it is unsigned but is of an interesting subject, such as a political cartoon, it may well be of interest to a specialist collector.
There are collectors who look out for pictures of all sorts of niche subjects, including bridges, golf, horses, local scenes, botanical drawings, football, etc. Because early prints are such a specialist area, you should have them valued or appraised by a professional whenever possible.
Could the Frame Be Valuable?
Sometimes old prints come in very good quality frames, and these can also have a value. It is always worth having them checked out. The print itself might be worth very little, but a lovely old maple frame, for example, can often fetch enough to make your efforts worthwhile.
What Is an Etching and Are They Valuable?
Etching is a specialised form of print-making. A metal plate is first given an acid-resistant coating. An image is then scratched into this coating using needles, and the plate is submerged into an acid bath. The coating resists the acid except where the image has been scored through. The acid is able to eat the metal in the scratched-out areas, leaving behind a roughened surface. The plate can then be inked up and pressed onto damp paper, which will draw the ink out of the indentations left by the acid.
Etchings have been around since the 16th century, and many famous artists, including Goya and Rembrandt, have experimented with this art form. Because they tend to be produced by the artist himself rather than by an engraver or print studio, etchings are often more highly sought-after. Etchings are considered to be works of art in their own right and attract higher prices than prints.
How to Appraise a Painting and Identify the Artist
- Once you've ascertained that your picture is definitely not a print of a more salable original, it might pay to do some further research. The most obvious avenue is to start by finding out who the artist is, and whether his paintings are successful in the salerooms of various auction houses. To do this you need to check the artist's signature, and this is usually (though not always) in either one of the bottom corners.
- Many artists use their initials, or even a monogram, in place of a full signature. There are good reference books available showing facsimiles of many thousands of signatures, and you might find one of these at your local library. Once you have an idea who the painter is, you can do further research online by searching for sales of the artist's work. A short list of artists' monograms is available online, and some artists' signatures may be seen online as well, although these pages offer only a very limited number of examples. This site offers a good selection of artist's signatures. You might also like to browse the signatures on this site, but you do have to pay to access their full listings.
- If you are able to identify the surname of the artist but don't have a first initial, try comparing your painting with the work of other artists with the same surname by entering the name and the word "images" into your search engine.
- The Public Catalogue Foundation's paintings website is a fantastic resource, with over 2,000 high-quality images of paintings in public ownership in the UK. It doesn't matter where you are in the world as there are examples of work from artists across the globe.
- Auction houses and art researchers also use an excellent online resource known as The Art Sales Index, which lists the hammer prices (before tax) on paintings sold at most major salerooms. This provides a comprehensive reference source. This site offers a wealth of useful information available free of charge. However, access to the auction price listings has recently been made subject to a fee. If you are researching several items, you may still feel it's worthwhile signing up to this website. A great alternative is to use the liveauctioneers.com website where hammer prices are given for free once you have become a subscriber. There is also masses of free information on findartinfo.com, including signature search.
What Is a Pastel and Can They Be Valuable?
Pastel is a pure powdered pigment mixed with a binding agent. It is used in the form of a stick or a pastel pencil. The pigments used to produce pastels are exactly the same as those used in any coloured art media, from watercolours to oil paints, and consequently pastels often produce very intense, vibrant colours.
Pastels have been around since at least the 15th century and many famous artists have used them to great effect. The French Impressionist artists Edgar Degas and Pierre-Auguste Renoir both produced wonderful examples of this art form.
An artwork made using pastels is called a pastel (or a pastel drawing or pastel painting).
The two most commonly found forms of pastel drawing are made using either soft pastels, which have often have a chalky, dusty appearance, and oil pastels which are shinier, smudgier, and often bolder in colour.
Pastels are generally more delicate than paintings or other forms of drawing and need to be handled with great care. Soft pastel drawings can shed dust long after they are first produced and should always be stored upright. A professionally framed pastel will normally have a spacer between it and the mount to allow any loose dust to settle out of sight. The spacer will only be very thin, so you might not notice it immediately, but if your pastel drawing does have one, it's a sign that the picture was considered worth giving extra attention.
Pastel drawings by the right artist will often be more highly prized than ordinary drawings, or indeed, watercolours.
Where Can I Sell My Antique Painting?
The most famous auction houses in the world are probably Sothebys and Christies. You might also have heard of Bonhams, or DuMouchelles, or Susanins. But aside from these big boys of the auction world, there are any number of small, local salerooms who will be happy to dispose of your treasures.
How to Sell at Auction
- If you have researched your painting and are satisfied that it is reasonably valuable, then you need to approach an auction house. Search online for "antiques auction" or "antiques salesroom" in your city or area. Alternatively, use a telephone directory or Yellow Pages to locate your nearest sale rooms. If you live in or near a big city, there's a good chance that you will be spoilt for choices.
- Ask if the saleroom specializes in paintings. If the answer is no, then you might want to keep trying until you find an auction house with an experienced art expert on board. If you do indeed have a valuable painting on your hands, then a reputable auctioneer will be only too pleased to help you to get the best price for your item. Auctions normally charge a commission fee for their services. This is generally between 10 and 20% of the hammer price, and the more your item sells for, the more commission they will earn.
Selling on eBay
Paintings do sell on eBay, but ask yourself this: If you were a collector, would you risk too much of your hard-earned money on a painting you have never seen in the flesh? Unless you are selling a more contemporary painting or a lower-value item, I would personally prefer to try a formal auction house first.
Selling to a Dealer
Again, this is a tricky area. Some dealers are both knowledgeable and fair. Some are not. The dealer has a living to earn, overheads to cover, and all stock is an investment in time and money. You can't blame them if they seek to take advantage of an innocent punter. Or can you?
Many reputable antique galleries are happy to buy your valuables. You are taking a chance that they are giving you a reasonable sum, and they are taking a chance that they are investing in something that will sell. Clearly, you must use your own judgement here. Never be afraid to haggle with a dealer, and you can always take your item to more than one.
More About Researching and Selling Antiques and Collectables
- What Makes an Antique Valuable? Quality, Rarity, Condition and Provenance
Sooner or later, there will be a buyer for just about any item you care to name, but what makes an antique or collectible desirable? What do rarity, condition, and provenance actually mean?
- Antiques and Collectibles: How to Value and Sell Your Old Things
There is a difference between antiques and collectibles and a difference between price guides and actual value, which is influenced by consumer demand, availability, and the condition of the item.
Questions & Answers
Question: How do you appraise a painting if it is unsigned?
Answer: There are so many artists in this world, and so many of them are amateurs, or unknown outside of a small, local area. It would be impossible for any one person to recognize the work of such a vast amount of people. For this reason, I have to tell you that it is extremely difficult to identify an unsigned painting unless you have additional information, such as a framer's label or some kind of provenance. Unsigned paintings can still be valuable if they are of high quality and are in good condition in a good frame. If you think your painting is of sufficient quality try seeking advice from an art sales professional in your local area.
Question: Where do I go in Denver, Colorado, to sell a bunch of old paintings worth a lot of money?
Answer: As I'm based in the UK, I'm afraid I'm unfamiliar with auction houses and art dealers in your area. You could try searching online for auctioneers, then contact them via email to see if they would be able to assist you. If you have reason to believe that some or all of your items are valuable, it would be worth checking that the auction house you choose has a dedicated art expert on the team, as general auction houses don't always have specialist expertise when it comes to high-end artworks.
Question: I have an old etching. On the back of the frame there is sticker possibly from the seller. It says it's an original etching by John Cameron. The date of the sticker is 3rd March 1906. It was sold by Taylor & Brown fine art experts. I can't find out anything about it and the only John Cameron I can find is the one who lived in 1828-1876. Can you help?
Answer: You could try signing up to liveauctioneers.com. This site is free to sign up to and once they have your email address you can access their auction results pages. There are several etchings by John Cameron listed on there. Please bear in mind that the sticker on your item might have been applied long after the artist completed his work.
Question: I believe I have an oil on canvas painting by B Giovanni. It portrays a woman reaching to put a wreath on a tall statue of Jesus. There is also a cherub by the head of Jesus. Is this likely to be valuable?
Answer: There were a number of B Giovannis painting during the 15th/16th centuries. There were several pictures created around this time which depict the baptism of Christ, and they may be similar to your description. It is of course impossible to say without seeing the painting in person. If you were to have an original painting from that era it would almost certainly be a valuable item, and would be the kind of thing you might well see in a museum. I suspect that your item may be some kind of print or other reproduction, but the only way to be certain is if you show the item to an auction house or art and antiques dealer in your local area. Meanwhile, you could try googling 'B Giovanni Christ Painting' in images, to see if you can see something similar to your picture.
Question: I have several paintings by the famous Mexican artist Socram. What is the value range?
Answer: If you refer to the website findartinfo.com, you will find that the artist Marcos Hernandez Garcia (also known as Socram) has only one auction listing. The value of the item sold was $225 (USD). There is a painting by the same artist currently listed on eBay with a suggested starting price of $180 USD. There are no bids at present, but you might want to see how that auction goes to get a feeling for any possible interest in similar works.
Question: Any advice selling framed paintings by Philip Sandee and K. Yoshii?
Answer: I wonder if the first artist you mention is in fact the Dutch artist Philippe Sadee (1837-1904)? His paintings of boats and ships sell well at auction and sometimes sell for substantial amounts of money. You can get some idea of just how much by researching the artist on the free listings on the findartinfo.com website. K Yoshii is also a listed artist, and you will also be able to get information on the website I have suggested.
As described in the article above, there are many options for selling art. High ticket items often do best at auction, but you can also sell via an art dealer, or via an auction listings site such as eBay. I would personally prefer to go via an auction house if I were the owner of a Sadee, but that must be your decision.
Question: I have three oil paintings done by Antonio Bin (Mona Lisa, La Bella Ferroniere, and Faboiola) purchased in 1954 from Antonio at the Louvre museum. I can not find information on the value of them but I do have a magazine in French (Noel Paris Match from 1962) about the artist and his copy of the Mona Lisa that he was allowed to paint in the museum and a copy of the original receipt for the purchase. How can I find the value of these paintings?
Answer: It is difficult to suggest a likely value for these paintings without seeing them in person. Given their provenance and the fact that you have documentation relating to their acquisition, it will be worth having them examined by someone from an auction house who may have a view as to their saleability and the amount they might achieve if sold at auction.
Question: I have an original religious Madonna with child painted around 1500. My art teacher in Memphis was Paul Penzner who was from Czechoslovakia and is an old style master. He cleaned and restored paintings from the 1500s, 1600s, and 1700s. He did the cleaning on my painting. I inherited it, but I have no idea what it's worth. What would be the value of this piece of artwork?
Answer: It is impossible to value or appraise a work of art without seeing it in person. A genuine work of art from the period you suggest is likely to be fairly valuable and would need to be examined by a professional appraiser. You could reasonably approach a high-end auction house for advice. Email them in the first instance. You should include photographs of the painting and the back of it. If there is a signature, provide a close-up. You should also mention the full details of its provenance, and any proof of ownership.
Question: I have an original signed photo by Wallace R MacAskill. The title is "Summer Antigonish NS 1932". I have read that it is rare. The size is about 8" x 10". It looks like the original frame with the artist's info and seal on back from The W.R. MacAskill Foundation. What would my MacAskill photograph be worth?
Answer: Photographic collectibles are a specialist field. I recommend you contact the relevant department of a large auction house by email including images of your item. If it is saleable they should be able to advise you of your options and provide you with a rough valuation. You might also take a look at the free auction price listings on the findartinfo.com site where over 30 examples of MacAskill's work are listed together with the prices achieved.
Question: What is the value of an original Baillie oil painting on canvas?
Answer: If you refer to the listings of prices achieved at auction by various artists on the findartinfo.com website (this is free to use at present) you will see that there are around twenty artists listed with the name Baillie. You may find the listings helpful if you have additional information not included in your question. If, however, your research has reached a dead end, you could perhaps approach an auction house or art dealer in your local area for their advice.
Question: I have an old oil painting. It looks like it is signed 'Munkacsy', but some of the picture is missing. How do I know my painting is by Munkacsy?
Answer: Hungarian artist Mihály Munkácsy (1844 to 1900) is famous for his genre pictures and large-scale biblical paintings. If you have a genuine painting by this artist that you are hoping to sell, I would suggest you contact a large auction house with a team of art experts who can help you.
Question: Where can I take an original picture by James Ingwersen to be appraised? It has no lot number but does have a signature, and is in an old frame. I am based in San Antonio, Texas.
Answer: Unfortunately, as I am based in the UK, I'm not familiar with the auction scene in your area. You could try searching on-line for an auction house with a dedicated art expert. Alternatively, if you are looking for a valuation for insurance purposes, you should be able to find an accredited appraiser on-line.
Question: I have an oil painting on canvas autographed by Lavelle 1976. That's all I have to work with. The painting is of a vase with red & yellow poppies. The frame has velvet on it as well. Could it be of value?
Answer: Your item may well be of value, but it's impossible to say without seeing it in person. As you'll appreciate, there are quite a number of artists with the sir-name Lavelle. The website liveauctioneers.com has over 40 price results for the term ' Lavelle', and these are worth looking at. as they include images which are useful for comparison purposes. There are also quite a number of listings on eBay which might be helpful.
Question: I have two Fred Lyman watercolor paintings from 1954 that my great aunt bought from Fred Lyman in New Orleans. Are they are worth anything?
Answer: If you register with the website liveauctioneers.com (this is free to sign up to, and free to use), you can research Fred Lyman in the price results section. There are over twenty examples of this artist's work featured on this site, with illustrations and details of prices attained at auction. You should be able to get a feel for the range of prices typically achieved.
Question: We have an extremely old painting. The frame is ornate but peeling and chipped, the backboard is warped but the painting is on glass. It is of two sailing boats on a lake and is quite attractive. No signature. Is it worth having it looked at?
Answer: Paintings on glass are unusual, and there are collectors who enjoy this style of work. I don't anticipate that this is likely to be a high ticket price item, as it's always difficult tracking down an artist for any item without a signature, but if you wish to sell it, you could approach a local auction house or dealer in art and antiques. If, however, you like the picture, either pay out for some sympathetic restoration, or simply hang it, and enjoy it for what it is.
Question: I have a copy of Philips Wouwerman's oli painting "The White Horse". The frame and the picture backing seem to be from the end of the 18th century or from the beginning of the 19th century. The size of the painting is 25×20cm. What is the price?
Answer: Philips Wouwerman (1619 -1668) was a Dutch painter who specialized in hunting, landscape and battle scenes. The original version of 'The White Horse' is in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
Prints of this painting are unlikely to be of high value. There are many in circulation, and their appeal depends on the quality of the framing, and on the overall condition. However, a good quality hand painted oil copy in a nice frame may do somewhat better. There is an example in the results pages of Liveauctioneers.com website which sold for US $600 in 2018.
Question: I have a painting by W. Amadio. Is it worth anything?
Answer: Any item is only worth what someone else is prepared to pay for it. Without seeing the painting in person it is impossible to know whether it is an attractive original picture in good condition in a good quality frame. All of these factors are very important. W. Amadeo's work does occasionally appear at auction. It doesn't, however, sell for vast sums. If you look at the auction price results on liveauctioneers.com you will see two or three examples which might give you some idea of likely value. This site is free to sign up to, and there is no charge for accessing their results pages.
Question: I have an oil painting signed by John R. Winston. It's an outdoor scene with houses, trees, pond, sea with a white sailboat. Is it valuable?
Answer: Your painting sounds a lot like the one by this artist currently shown in the price results pages og liveauctioneers.com. This site requires only an email address to sign up to, then the price results are free to access.
Any item is only worth as much as another person is prepared to give you for it. Some artists have become well known and collectable, but this doesn't always mean that their work has more merit than a painting by one of the hundreds of thousands of amateur artists who are not famous and not collectable. Your picture may well be by one of these hobby artists who turn out beautiful work that has only a value that reflects its worth as a purely decorative item. If you like your painting, put it on the wall and enjoy it. Not all good paintings are valuable in monetary terms. If, however, you feel strongly that your picture is a hidden gem, seek further advice from an art sales professional such as an auctioneer in your local area.
Question: I have an original Whistler etching, a dry point entitled 'Droulet the Sculpteur ', dated 1859. What would an original Whistler etching be worth?
Answer: There are quite a number of artists named Whistler, so there are no guarantees that your item is by James McNeill Whistler(1834-1903) although the date does tie-in, and he was certainly an active producer of high-quality etchings. James McNeill Whistler's etchings tend to sell for reasonable amounts of money, and if you look at the free auction price listings on findartinfo.com you will get a feel for the range of prices achieved at auction for works by this artist.
As with any well-known artist of this caliber, there are large numbers of fakes and copies in circulation. I recommend you approach an auction house with a dedicated art specialist on the team if you are hoping to sell your item. Please be aware that some form of provenance will be extremely helpful if you are to prove the authenticity of your etching.
Question: I have a pair of pictures that look very old. On the back of each of the pictures, the cardboard backing has a circular stamp done in black ink. The stamps say 'property of Art Pub. Co. Chicago, Illinois', and there is a handwritten note in the corner saying 'Dec.25,1944 Gretch'. I don't know what to do to find out if the pictures are of value or even what year they are really from. Can you give me an idea of where to see if they are worth anything?
Answer: Auction houses, and art/antique dealers are generally the ideal people to help ascertain the value, particularly if you are hoping to sell your pictures. You should easily find someone to advise you in your local area by searching online. Email or telephone in advance with your inquiry.
I suspect that your pictures may be prints. The hand-written name and date suggest that they were a Christmas gift. Of course, without seeing them in person, it's impossible to say for sure.
Question: I have a signed painting by D.A. Johnson entitled 'Early Morning Walk.' Is it worth anything? I also have a limited edition print by Debra Stroud, copy number 180/195.
Answer: I'm afraid that Johnson is an incredibly common sir-name, and the subject you describe is a popular one for artists to depict. It is quite literally impossible to guess which one of the many possible artists might have painted your picture, and for this reason, I recommend that you seek advice from either an auction house or antique/art dealer in your local area.
Debra Stroud has some work listed on Findartinfo.com. The paintings that have passed through auction to date have been valued at around $200. That is the typical price for an original work by this artist, and a print is likely to sell for a far smaller amount.
Question: How can I get my items evaluated for free? Who can I send pictures to?
Answer: Many auction houses value or appraise pictures for free, but it is best to email in advance with your query. Remember to include a good photograph of your item. Art and antique dealers can also be helpful, but it's best to ask several for their offers if you are hoping to sell, as they are people with a living to earn, and are unlikely to offer top dollar prices.
Question: What would the value be of a painting by Frederick Remington?
Answer: Frederic Sackrider Remington is one of the best known American artists, and his artworks make enormous amounts at auction. If you search this artist on the free listings on findartinfo.com, you will get some idea of the sums achieved.
Question: I have an 'Age of Innocence' picture, but it is really hard to make out whether it is in the original frame. It's very old, with a paper-backed frame. It looks like an oil, but also looks like a print. What do you think?
Answer: Sir Joshua Reynolds painted "Age of Innocence" in 1788. It hangs in the Tate Gallery in London. You may have a print, or you may have a painted copy. In times gone by, aspiring artists would make copies of famous works, and if you have one of these of a sufficiently high standard in a good quality frame, it may well fetch a reasonable price at auction. However, if you have one of the many, many prints in circulation, the value may well come down to the quality of the frame and is likely to be less than £100/$70. It is of course, impossible to tell without actually seeing the item in person.
Question: I want to sell three signed pen-and-ink Paule Stetson Loring sketches. Who should I contact? They were a part of my father-in-law's collection as he was a graphic artist in Providence, RI, and he knew Mr. Loring.
Answer: I am based in the UK, so I do not have first-hand knowledge of the art market in your area. My research suggests that the items are unlikely to have an exceptionally high value, but it might be worth entering them into auction or offering them to an art dealer in your local area. Alternatively, you could use an online auction service.
Question: My watercolour picture is dated 1886 by Alfred Scott Broad. It is 1ft 7in heigh and 1ft 4in wide and depicts a boat on a river. There are paintings in the South Australian art gallery by this artist. I’m wondering what my inherited picture is worth?
Answer: If you are looking for a valuation for insurance purposes you need to find an accredited valuer in your area who can provide you with the correct paperwork. Check with your insurers to find out what information or documentation is required.
If you are hoping to sell, find a good quality auction house with an art expert on the team who can give you an estimate of likely sales value. Alternatively, you could approach one or more art dealers to see what you might be offered. It is usually best to email your inquiry in the first instance. Include photos of your item from both front and back and include a close up of the signature, and as much information about provenance as you have available. Paintings by this artist don't often come to auction, so it may be difficult to get a completely accurate valuation.
Question: I have a Bonner and a Struenk painting. Is there any value in those artist's work?
Answer: An easy way to research picture values is by searching on the auction price listings on the findartinfo.com website. There is no charge for accessing these listings, however, they are not comprehensive, and lesser known artists are often easier to find on eBay and on liveauctioneers.com, neither of which makes a charge for accessing their info once you are signed up to their sites.
Question: I have an oil painting in the style of Reubens, and there appears to be another painting underneath. What should I do?
Answer: It is impossible to give proper advice without seeing the picture in person. I would advise you to show your item to either an auction house or an art dealer if you are hoping to sell it.
Question: I have an oil painting, but cannot distinguish the signature. Can you help me?
Answer: There are a limited number of artists' signatures available to browse for free on findartinfo.com website. Other than that you might want to get a subscription to a website such as artistssignatures.com which gives the option of buying a researcher's time. You can also browse their catalog of artists' signatures for an initial fee of around $10. Alternatively, you can buy, or borrow from a library, a reference book of artist's signatures.
Please bear in mind that not all paintings are by famous artists, or even by saleable artists. The vast majority of original work available on the second-hand market is either by unknown amateur artists or by artists whose renown has never extended beyond their local area. Picture research is very time-consuming and does not always yield results. Experts in this field justifiably charge a fee for their services, and you should expect to pay a reasonable sum if you engage the assistance of a researcher.
Question: I have inherited a painting by Ferris. Is it of any worth?
Answer: I recommend you research your painting on the findartinfo.com website. You will find a very long list of artists with the name Ferris, but you may be able to narrow it down with the knowledge that you already have about the picture and its history. If you then feel that the painting might be valuable and you wish to sell it you could approach an auction house or art dealer in your local area for further advce.
Question: I inherited a bunch of mid century art from my dad. None of it is worth enough to get appraised or go to an auction house. Should I just try and sell my inherited art on eBay? Example, Paul Dibert, Frank Hamilton, Ron Roesch. I really just want to get rid of this stuff because it's taking up room in my house and is not my style.
Answer: The artists you list all feature in the auction results listings on liveauctioneers.com. They are all saleable artists, although it does, of course, depend on the condition and quality of the artwork in question. Certainly, you could put them on eBay, but these do sound like paintings that a small to mid-range auctioneer would be happy to accept.
Question: How do I determine the value of an oil painting by M.Guerrero?
Answer: It is impossible to answer this question with any hope of accuracy. Guerrero is a fairly common Spanish sir-name, and there are a number of listed artists by this name. There is also an additional possibiity that your item is actually by an unlisted amateur artist. You need to ascertain which M. Guerrero painted your picture, then research further with the correct information.
Question: I have two signed etchings from two different artists. Both have original written on them. I can’t read the names. Where can I go for help in identifying the artists?
Answer: Identifying artist's signatures can be a lengthy, time-consuming business, requiring a lot of patience. The vast majority of pre-owned art available for sale is by artists who are unknown amateurs, or else by artists who are not well-known outside of their local areas, and whose work has never passed through the major galleries and auction houses. Whilst the internet has made it much easier to identify artwork, not all painters will be listed on auction price guide websites, and not all second-hand pictures are of any major value. Etchings can be particularly difficult to identify. You can try comparing the signatures to those listed on artist signature websites, but if that fails, you could approach an art dealer or auction house in your local area and seek their advice.
Question: I have an old painting on canvas signed "Franco." Is it worth anything? It came from art masters gallery It is a still life with two vases and it's painted as a frame, yet has no frame.
Answer: Unfortunately, Franco is an incredibly common name both as a first name and as a sir-name, so I can't suggest a likely artist as there are many painters signing themselves that way. It is impossible to give a realistic valuation without seeing the item in person, so I, therefore, recommend you ask the advice of an auction house or art dealer in your local area.
Question: My husband had an old oil painting by Maurice Meyer. Is this worth anything?
Answer: If you look at the price results page on the liveauctioneers.com website you will find literally dozens of paintings by this American artist together with images. The site is free to sign up to and there is no charge for looking at auction results. By looking at a range of paintings by this artist you should get a feel for the kind of money you might reasonably expect to make were you to sell your item. Do remember, however, that auction houses charge commission on sales, so the prices listed won't necessarily be the amount paid to the seller.
Question: I have a signed limited edition number 48 of 480 of Cyndi Nelson's "We've Only Just Begun" it is signed by the artist and dated 1987, is this a print worth finding someone to auction it for me?
Answer: There are a number of Cyndi Nelson prints on ebay. I recommend that you research this item on-line and compare it to similar items on ebay and other live auction sites before you decide whether to approach an art sales professional.
Question: I have an oil painting signed "A.T.Bricher .A.N.A." It's a coastal landscape. On the web, I've found a lot of variations on the theme, but not the exact picture; mine is darker, with wind and waves crashing on the beach. Could it be valuable?
Answer: If your painting proves to be a genuine painting by the American artist Alfred Thompson Bricher (1837-1908) then it will indeed be a valuable item. If you use the free listings on findartinfo.com to research the sold at auction prices, you will see that many oil paintings by Bricher achieve thousands of dollars at auction, sometimes in the high thousands. Bricher was a prolific artist, and there are no doubt many 'copies' of his work around as well as originals. Only an expert on this particular artist will be able to give you a valid opinion on the item, and it will be worth approaching a high end auction house with a dedicated art expert on board for further advice. Email in the first instance, then find out if you want to investigate further dependant on the suggestions they make.
Question: I have a Rene Charles painting that is titled "Cottage by a River". I believe it's a 1930 painting. How much is it worth?
Answer: If you look at the auction listings for this artist on findartinfo.com, you'll get an idea of the spread of prices achieved for works by this artist. This service is free to use at present, and provides a useful insight into the possible value of your item. Rene Charles Edmund His (1877-1960) painted numerous countryside scenes, and his oil paintings do reasonably well at auction. Please be aware, however, that there are many prints of this artist's work in circulation, and a print usually has only a fraction of the value of an original.
Question: I have a Puente bullfighting oil painting. I am trying to find out its value. Where can I get an appraisal for free online?
Answer: It is impossible to give an accurate appraisal without seeing the item in person. This is partly because you might post an image that might actually be of a print. Also, there are many factors to take into consideration such as condition, provenance, and general desirability. Sites that purport to give accurate appraisals via email can in fact only give you an indication of a typical auction price for that specific artist.
I am often asked about providing appraisals, and even were it to be possible via the internet, I would point out that picture research is a time-consuming and painstaking process, and you are unlikely to find someone with the right expertise who is prepared to provide their services free of charge.
Question: I have a painting signed by a local artist Dovard Taunton. On the back is an article and pic of him. Also is a certificate of authenticity that it is 1 on 1000. Is this pic valuable?
Answer: You appear to have a limited edition print by Dovard Taunton. I have been able to find out very little about this artist. The listings sites I subscribe to do not have auction results for his work, however, there is a single listing for one of his prints on ebay.com. It may well be that there is a market for this artist's work in his home town that does not exist in the wider marketplace. If that is the case, and you are based in the relevant area, you could ask local art dealers or auctioneers for their advice.
Question: I have a very old painting which I believe to be by Nicolas Poussin. How do I sell it?
Answer: The French artist Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665) painted in the classical Baroque style, and he was a well-known and much admired painter whose works now hang in many museums and galleries across Europe and beyond.
If you have a genuine Poussin (there are many copies and forgeries in circulation) then you should approach one of the larger, better known auction houses where they may have the right expertise to deal appropriately with such a rare and valuable item. A genuine Poussin may well attract a lot of interest, and some of his paintings have sold for considerable sums, as you will discover if you look at the auction price listings on the findartinfo.com website.
Question: I have a Henri Royer painting of the Eiffel Tower Street View. I cannot find anything about this online. Can you help with any info?
Answer: French artist Henri Royer (1869-1938) painted many Parisian scenes, some of which can be found in an online image search, including some with the Eiffel Tower in the background. A search of the listings on the findartinfo.com website will give you some idea of prices achieved at auction for work by this artist.
Question: What is an etching by Colnaghi and Company worth?
Answer: There is no one size fits all answer to this question. Etchings are a very particular field of expertise, and you need to show your item to someone with the relevant experience. I recommend you contact an auction house with an art expert who may be able to steer you in the right direction.
Question: What is the value of a Betty Neubauer print?
Answer: There are two Betty Neubauer prints currently listed on eBay with 'buy it now' prices of $134.99 and $225, respectively. I suggest you research on eBay and other live auction sites to see whether similar items to yours are selling.
Question: I have a 1963 '7 Tubes' painting by Lamar W. Dodd. Do you know anything about this artist or the value of his paintings?
Answer: Lamar Dodd (1909 - 1996) was a highly regarded 20th century American artist whose work frequently finds it's way into auction. He worked in a variety of mediums, and his oil paintings typically achieve the highest prices, many selling for thousands of dollars. Watercolours, charcoal sketches, and mixed media items tend to do less well, but you might still expect a reasonable sum for an attractive item by this artist, particularly if it is in good condition, and you have proof of provenance.
If you are hoping to sell your picture, you could approach an auction house or art dealer in your local area for further advice.
Question: I have an old oil on canvas painting of a river scene by a William Miller, or Meller. It dates back to at least the late 1800s, but I can't seem to find anything about this artist. Have you ever heard of him?
Answer: A cursory search on findartinfo.com brings up fifteen results with William Miller in the name, but none at all for William Meller. As William Miller is a fairly common name, it is quite likely that there are many more unlisted artists including amateur painters who may have produced your item. I recommend you show the painting to an auction house or art dealer in your local area for further advice.
Question: How can I be sure that I have a self portrait of Rembrandt as the apostle St. Paul?
Answer: If you feel that you have a valuable item you could seek advice from an art dealer or auction house in your local area. Original works by Rembrandt are very valuable, and there are many forgeries and copies in circulation, so you would need to have your item authenticated in order to sell it as an original.
Question: What do you, the writer of this article, know about a framed Linda Schneider oil painting in my possession? It features two expressionist female nudes and looks like it is from the late 1940s or 1950s. It is in very good condition. It measures approximately 20" x 28".
Answer: The contemporary artist Linda Schneider produces high-quality art with a vintage feel. Her art can be seen on her own dedicated website: www.lindaschneiderart.com .
Question: I have what appears to be an original John Constable oil on canvas painting: Dedham Lock & Mill. It is framed and the back label says Victoria & Albert Museum London 1820. Some minor flaws in the frame and small water spots on the painting. Can you advise me on the nature of this potential John Constable painting in my possession?
Answer: John Constable painted Dedham Lock and Mill in 1820. The original painting is currently in the ownership of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. This particular painting has been reproduced a great many times, both as a print on paper and as a print on canvas. Reproductions of this painting exist in large numbers and are consequently of limited value. I suspect your picture is one of these prints, but it's impossible to say without seeing it in person.
Question: Where can I go to get a canvas painting appraised?
Answer: Auction houses will generally provide you with an estimated value when accepting an item for sale. Similarly, an art or antique dealer will make a fixed offer if they are interested in your item. If, however, you require a written appraisal for insurance purposes, you will need to have this done by a professional appraiser. Locally based auction houses, art dealers, and art appraisers are all easily discovered by researching on the internet.
© 2010 Amanda Severn
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on May 29, 2020:
Roy Briggs, the picture that you discovered is probably a vintage print of a well known painting. If you search for this item online you will no doubt find similar examples on sites such as ebay and etsy. Mass produced prints are generally low value items, and their resale value is dependant on the quality of the frame and the overall presentation.
Roy Briggs on May 27, 2020:
I found a picture behind a brick wall,it's got the original wood frame .boy hood joys, R.van cleef
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on January 13, 2020:
This service is not offered in this site. If you are unable to do your own research you could perhaps approach an art dealer or auction house in your local area for advice.
BROWN MICHELL on January 12, 2020:
I have an old painting. Is there someone who can tell me if its worth something.
Abbi Albarazi on April 24, 2019:
Thanks a million, that is all i need ..at least it is something to start with
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on April 15, 2019:
Hello Abbi Albarazi
The problem is that it is genuinely impossible to accurately value a painting without seeing it in person. The reason I say this is that a photographic image could just as easily be of a print, a copy or even a forgery and you need to actually see the item to be sure that it is none of these. Researching from an image is another matter. There are people on the internet who would help with this, but they are likely to make a substantial charge for their time as ths is a specialist field and requires patience, skill, and often luck. There are literally hundreds of thousands of pre-owned paintings on the market at any one time. The majority of these are not by listed artists or famous artists. They are mostly by little known painters or even amateurs, and their value is really only what someone will pay for a purely decorative item as opposed to an investment item.
The chances are that you may never identify the artist of your unsigned painting. If, however you are determined to find the artist of the other paiinting you could try Mearto.com or valuemystuff.com. I do not have personal experience of either site, so please do not take this as a recommendation. These are just two of the better known sites offering valuation services, and hopefully, as they are well-established, they are likely to offer a reasonable service. Good luck in your quest.
Abbi Albarazi on April 13, 2019:
At first, i wish to thank you for sparing your time for replying to me.
However, i do agree with you 100% about everything that you've mentioned..but unfortunately i really don't know where to start in this matter.
As well, the country of where i live have no art or auction houses what so ever..i live in Syria and i have been asking everywhere without any luck.
i simply need some guidance , for example the email address or the website of someone who can guide me, and if you can provide me with such address i would me most obliged.
i know for sure that both paintings are original , as well as i know that my late dad purchased them during the late sixties of last century while he was working with the UN as an attorney general in one of the two Congo (not sure which is) after they were liberated from France and Belgium.
One of the painting got the signature of the artist but i couldn't read it (it isn't clear) and it is a colored painting, while the other is Black and White but with no signature.
i would really appreciate ANY sort of lead that you can provide me with because and as i've mentioned, i have no clue where to start.
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on April 04, 2019:
Hi Bob, nice to hear from you. Let me know how you get on x
diogenes from UK and Mexico on April 01, 2019:
Very useful article, I have a couple of oldish oils and will try to do as you advise.
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on March 18, 2019:
Sorry Abbi, but this is not a service that I offer. Quite apart from the fact that art research can be incredibly time-consuming, I believe that you cannot give a true valuation based on an emailed photograph. After all, a print or a forgery, will look just the same as the real deal in a photograph. If you feel that these paintings have a value you could try taking them to an auction house or art dealer in your local area for advice. Good luck!
Abbi Albarazi on March 16, 2019:
i have read your article but unfortunately i still need some professional help in this matter as i don't posses the know how.
i have in my position a couple of original very old paintings which i have a feeling that they are worth something since i know well that my late father purchased them during the sixties from some art auction.
one of them is not carrying any name of the artist while the other has a name but i can't read it clearly.
could you help me in this matter and i would really appreciate it.
if you can provide me with any email address, then i could send you a photo of both paintings.
Thanks a million
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on January 03, 2019:
It is impossible to give a realistic appraisal of works of art without seeing them in person. However, if you research on the free to access auction listings on findartinfo.com you will see that there are no auction sales associated with either of these names. You might also try researching on eBay and liveauctioneers.com as both of these sites frequently sell lower priced artworks that do not pass successfully through the more high profile auction houses.
THOMAS DUANE CROCKETT on January 02, 2019:
I have a Bohner and a Struenk. Is there any value in those artist's work?
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on October 27, 2018:
Italo Botti was a 20th century artist born in New york of Italian immigrant parents. He was a prolific artist and his work regular appears on the live auction sites including eBay. If you are looking to sell this item you might try approaching a local auction house or art dealer for further advice, or you could list it online yourself. Good luck!
Connie13 on October 25, 2018:
I have a large canvas mid century oil painting by George Barrel aka Botti. I have looked everywhere online. Seen similar paintings but not this exact one. It's a wrap canvas no frame. On the back it has CE+HE written in pencil. The only other thing on it is a series of numbers stamped on the back of the canvas. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on August 07, 2018:
Sorry Brian, but as clearly stated in my article, I do not undertake private appraisal or research work. Most works of art are best examined in the flesh, and research work can be extremely time-consuming, and not always productive. It is for this reason that art appraisers and researchers often charge a fee.
If you feel convinced that your item might be of value, I recommend that you seek further advice from an auction house or art dealer in your local area. Good luck!
Brian Bate on August 05, 2018:
Hello, I have found what appears to be a print on cloth of three asian women and the cloth is thumbtacked to a stamped board. The stamp is nearly illegible " something Panasia Grade F" and the print has a signature i cant quite make out. I thought maybe you could help me to find the artist name and if this might be a 19th century block print that you speak of. I can send pics of it if you wish. Srtist name appears to be "Ismo...the next few letters are not very legible could be nio, could be rxo not sure. Thanks
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on October 28, 2017:
Hi Sari Mati, Thank you for your kind comments. I do not, unfortunately, offer any kind of valuation or appraisal service. In my opinion, it is all but impossible to give a true and fair appraisal of a painting or any other work of art without seeing it in person. How is it possible to tell a print from an original, or a fake from a genuine item, without seeing it in the flesh? It is for this reason that I recommend getting a face to face valuation wherever possible, and a local auctioneer or art dealer should be able to advise you. Good luck with your research.
Sari Mati on October 19, 2017:
Thank you . Very informative. I do have quite old paintings such an oil painting on board signed and dated 1817 or Victorian paintings on ivory with old Victorian frames such as tortoise shell, etc.
Should I bring these items to an auctioneer or can I just take photos and send it to them. (note: I do have about 100 of them and mostly signed).
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on September 20, 2017:
Thank you for your comment. Unfortunately, as stated in the article, I do not offer a valuation service, but in any case the information provided is insufficient to give you any kind of guidance.
Arif Adel on September 18, 2017:
Thanks for the very useful and useful information. Help with sales
you do not tell me the price of the original painting by Jolene Judith with the head of Hollowness 1478-1510
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on July 23, 2017:
It is possible that your etchings are by Baron Ernst von Maydell (1888-1960). A simple image search on his name will quickly reveal pictures of his work from which you should be able to identify whether you have the right artist. Follow the link to his Wikipedia Page : https://translate.google.co.uk/translate?hl=en&...//de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernst_von_Maydell&prev=search
A watercolour by Ernst Maydell recently sold for $1,900. I suspect that etchings by this artist are likely to have a moderate value, and, as suggested in my article, you should take them to an auctioneer with a specialism in art. Good luck!
kwhandy on July 22, 2017:
Thank you for the great information Amanda. I have 2 original, signed etchings by E. V. Maydell. I can't find an information about this artist and I'm wondering how/if I should proceed with appraising them.
mearto on May 16, 2017:
HI again Amanda,
Thanks for including Mearto in your article. We continue to improve the database and it now has 5 mio. auction results and we are soon launching some statistical tools. Would you link directly to the database on www.mearto.com/search - it would be much appreciated. Beside doing the auction results database. We are connecting private sellers with auctioneers and their specialists. So if someone has rare antiques or art - they can submit it for a free appraisal here www.mearto.com/appraisal
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on April 08, 2017:
Hi Melissa, use the tips given in the article to discover whether the paintings might be of value. If you think you have struck lucky, ask a local art dealer or auction house to take a look. Good luck!
Melisa L Goodwin on April 07, 2017:
I was just wondering i have found two oil painting's that some one was throwing away on a council pick up so i grabbed them was wanting to know if they have any value
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on March 30, 2017:
Hi Oddbob, Unfortunately I do not offer a valuation service, as clearly stated in the article. Alexandre-François Bonnardel (1867-1942) is a listed artist, noted for his still-lifes. They sell well at auction, and if you have a genuine painting by this artist that you wish to sell, I recommend you take it to a reputable auctioneer for their advice. If, however, your picture is just a print, then it willl not be worth nearly as much as the original work of art, and you might consider selling it through a dealer or via an auction website. Good luck, and thank you for posting.
Oddbob on March 29, 2017:
How my h is my painting worth its a bowl of pears by AF BONNARDEL
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on March 27, 2017:
Hi Ozgur Akdeniz,
Unfortunately I do not offer a research and valuation service, and this is clearly stated in my article. Please google 'Gobbi artist' to find further information about the artist. There are a number of well-known artists with this surname and you may be able to narrow it down by searching on 'Gobbi painting images'. Blouin Art Sales Index is a useful on-line resource which might show you whether your picture has been through auction. If, after you've researched your item you believe it may be valuable, then I recommend you take it to an auction house or art dealer for further advice.
ozgur akdeniz on March 27, 2017:
I am writing to you to get infotmation abaut painting picture has signed by Gobbi. How could I send photos? I need your email adress.Thanks in adwance.
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on March 01, 2017:
Religious paintings have a very specific niche in the market place. The average art buyer is not generally interested in religious art, however, if the work is indeed an antique, and perhaps by a 'listed artist', then it could well be of interest to a museum or some other collector of old masters.
The phrase 'listed artists' is used in reference to those whose works have passed through auction houses and major galleries sufficiently often for them to appear on listings sites such as Blouin's Art Sales Index. Your painting may well be such an item, but unless you can identify the artist this could be difficult to prove. You say that the signature appears to be in a cyrillic alphabet, and this might be a good place to start. Try looking on the wikipedia page for Cyrillic Alphabet. Here you will find a useful list of variations which may help you to identify a country of origin. If you find that the artist is indeed likely to be Greek (or Belarusian, or Bulgarian, etc.) then you might try the list of notable artists from each country also listed on Wikipedia. If you are sufficiently lucky, you might be able to identify a possible artist from these lists, then cross-reference them to other works by the same artist on the internet using an image search. If you are unsuccessful, however, then it is often worth posting on a question and answer site such as WikiAnswers or YahooAnswers. It's not guaranteed to work, but sometimes you can just get lucky. Good luck with your research!
abuadam97 on February 28, 2017:
Hi Amanda, thanks for this great wealth of information. I acquired a large antique oil painting from an estate sale depicting Jesus holding a cross with a disciple. There is a label of the company that framed it and it is in Madrid. The signature is illegible and it looks like it's in Greek/Slavonic alphabet. I got in the touch with a major local auction house for appraisal with the idea to get the value and maybe put it for auction. They declined to appraise as they replied "We generally confine our sales of art to listed artist.". No artist list is posted on their Web site. My guess is they don't have an expert to appraise such thematic artwork and tough to decipher the signature. I also contacted a professional appraiser but the fees where of $175/hr with a minimum of 2 hrs and it could take longer than 2 hours. I am not sure if my painting is worth that much. Are there any specific books or links to check for these type of artworks? I could be either holding a valuable piece or an average one. I don't know if paintings with religious themes are sought after or not. What's your take on that?
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on February 23, 2017:
This is definitely something I would share. Please let me have more info. Many thanks.
mearto on January 18, 2017:
Thank you Amanda - great article. We made a database with free auction results. Is this something you could consider writing about?
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on January 10, 2017:
Your painting sounds lovely. It's impossible for me to comment on its potential value, or offer any real insight without seeing the picture. As I have stated elsewhere, I'm not able to provide a valuation service. I reccommend that you take the picture to an auction house with an in-house art expert to get their advice. Good luck with your search.
Kelly Samons on October 19, 2016:
Hello i have a painting that ive had for years its in a beautiful frame that looks really old the back of the painting dont have anything on it the front has a signature ive tried to look up the name but nothing comes up its not a full name its the painters initial then the last name its a painting of an old man that looks like he is from the Renaissance the name on it is N.Green if you could help it would be much appreciated thank you
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on September 21, 2016:
Hi GenAllen, thank you for your email. As I have mentioned in the comments above, I do not offer a research service, and this article is intended to point you in the right direction to do some research of your own. Art research can be a lengthy and time-consuming process which is why you are unlikely to get someone to do it without making a charge. However, auction houses will often offer you advice for free, based on the premise that you will very possibly then allow them to sell your items.
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on September 15, 2016:
Hi Steve, your picture sounds intriguing, and it is obviously a family treasure that you would not wish to part with. If you wish to insure it, you could get an ad hoc, verbal valuation from a local auction house. This is unlikely to cost anything, but you should check with the auctioneer first. Written valuations are a different matter, and are likely to cost money, often a straight percentage of the total projected value. Find out from your insurance company exactly what information they need. They may be happy to accept a few photos, and a general estimate so long as the value is not in the tens of thousands or even greater! Good luck.
Steves Cortina on August 30, 2016:
Hi Amanda. My mother passed awy earlier this year and as agreed I have inherited one of her paintings. It was an odd one, as my father and mother painted it in the 60's while they were still married. During the 60's, my parents used to sell oils down the Bayswater Rd and were also exhibited in one of the London Galleries. This painting however has never been seen by the public as far as I know. It is unframed and measures approximately 6' X 4' and features a stone bridge in the Lake District. I would like to insure it, but have no idea how to get it valued without incurring a cost (at present unemployed). It is a beautiful painting using a mixture of pallete and brush which gives it a lovely depth. Can you advise me on what to do next please. Steve
bady souayah on December 26, 2015:
عندي صورة زيتية أريد معرفة قيمتها الفنية والمادية
john544 on December 19, 2015:
Can someone help with some paintings that I just inherited . One is signed by Stanford Its i believe oil on board. its a picture of a boy/girl and a cat.
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on September 14, 2015:
Hi zhzh, unfortunately I have had to delete your comment as you included an email address, which anyone reading this page could use. As I have said before, both in the article, and elsewhere in these comments, I do not provide a valuation service. Please follow the advice provided to assist you with doing your own research. As Giovanni Guerzoni is a listed artist you should be able to find examples of his work on the Blouin Art sales Index site. Once you have established whether the painting might be of value, take it to an auction house that specialises in art, and seek further advice. Good luck.
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on May 31, 2015:
Renee, researching pictures takes a great deal perseverance. A sketch of a man in a 200 year old church might presumably have been left there at any point in the church's history. I imagine that it might be a picture of someone connected to the church, but you provide so little information that it is almost impossible to make any helpful suggestions. If it is a framed picture, then it is possibly of someone notable, or at least of importance within the church community. Maybe a cleric, or perhaps a generous member of the congregation. Good luck with your search.
Renee Kraft on May 27, 2015:
I found a large sketch of a man in the attic of a 200 year old church ... How do I find out who he is
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on March 13, 2015:
In general Dante Petrucelli, larger pictures have a greater value when by the same artist. The difficulty arises when you start to get extra large paintings. Even when the artist is highly sought after, an outsize painting can be a turn-off for many would be buyers. Not everyone has large expanses of wall to fill. However, if the painting is particularly attractive, and the artist is unusually collectable, then you can still do well, but as with all these things, its hard to predict.
Dante petrucelli on March 12, 2015:
That's a great help and starting point. Ah, I didn't know you were in the UK. Thank you for the reply. Are you able to tell me if larger by the same artist and same medium means more expensive painting just based on the size?
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on March 11, 2015:
Hi Dante Petrucelli. This is a fascinating story, but unfortunately not one I can help you with, firstly because I am based in the UK, and secondly because restoration is not my area of expertise. As a first step you could identify a professional picture restorer who might be prepared to take on the work if you were to buy the picture, and get an estimate. Picture restoration does not come cheaply, particularly when there is damage to the canvas, so you need to be sure the investment will not exceed potential profit. Sorry I cannot help you further, but good luck with this enterprise!
Dante petrucelli on March 10, 2015:
Ok. I have a problem with a painting that a friend's family has. The painting has been kept in horrible conditions . In a house of a smoker without a frame and was torn in a move. There is a black flim over the whole painting. This was an early work of a living artist which his paintings are selling for tens of thousands of dollars. I saw a 30 in by a 30 in painting sold for 38,000 dollars. The good thing is a copy of the painting is hanging somewhere important like the UN or somewhere. I got in touch with the artist and he remembers the painting and wanted to get it back. I may be able to buy the painting but there would have to be an extensive restoration on it. Also the size of the painting is Hugh in comparison to the ones that were sold by the artist. 6 foot by 6 foot. The story behind the painting was where ever it's hanging right now it was contracted for him to do it for them and I guess a picture was taken of the original. I know all this to be true through conversations with the artist. So what's it cost to restore? The fact that this is so much bigger and hung somewhere will make it more valuable? Any help moving forward would be great. I skimmed through this page so hope this applies. Are u available to work with?
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on January 16, 2015:
Hi Kristi, I do not offer a valuation service I'm afraid. The artist that you mention is not one I've ever heard of, and a search on his name draws a complete blank. It doesn't even appear to be a real sir-name. I wonder if perhaps you've misread the sir-name? The quickest way to search for listed artists is to go on Blouin's Art Sales Index website. The vast majority of known artists whose works regularly pass through auction, are listed on that site together with auction sales values. I've just tried searching on Scheermuni without success, but you might want to have a look for yourself to see if any of the names listed are similar. Realistically, its almost impossible to value a painting without seeing it, and if you are in a big city, there is likely to be a number of auction houses and art dealers locally who will be prepared to give an opinion. Good luck!
Kristi T on January 12, 2015:
Hi Amanda: I have an original oil painting that my mom bought in the 60's in great condition in beautiful wooden original frame. The artist's name is 'W. Scheermuni'. Have you ever heard of that artist before? I would like to sell it and want to see how much it might be worth. It is a portrait of an older, bearded man with a sad look on his face. The dimensions are: 20 inches by 24 inches (in the frame). By the way, I live in NY. Thanks for any information.
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on October 26, 2014:
Does it have a signature, or any labels that might give a clue? Many paintings are created by amateurs, or less-well known artists, and even when they are of a good standard they often have a low value because there are no collectors desperate to own them. If the painting gives you pleasure and you're not too concerned about its value, just hang it on the wall and enjoy it. If, however, you bought it as in investment, you can either research it yourself, or else take it to an auction house for their opinion. Good luck!
Mary Bickle on October 25, 2014:
I have an oil painting, that I know nothing about. I bought it at a flea market because I'm very intrigued by it. I just don't know how to find information on it.
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on October 11, 2014:
Thanks for stopping by AaronBurton. If you love art, as I do, paintings on the wall will always bring pleasure.
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on October 11, 2014:
Thanks for stopping by and commenting Blackspaniel1. Very wise words - we should always be open to learning.
Aaron Burton from US on October 11, 2014:
I don;t have any paintings...yet haha
Blackspaniel1 on October 09, 2014:
I find this very interesting, even though I have neither painting nor print. One does not need to own either to learn, and we should all be open to learning.
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on October 09, 2014:
Moktar Msi, OhMe and GClark, thank you all for visiting this article and leaving such kind comments. I hope you found it useful. I also love seeing surprised people on the Antiques Roadshow, OhMe. How wonderful to discover something of great value amongst your household knickknacks!
GClark from United States on October 06, 2014:
Excellent article with lots of helpful info. Plan on rereading this a couple of times to make sure I haven't overlooked anything.
Nancy Tate Hellams from Pendleton, SC on October 06, 2014:
Very interesting and helpful. Thank you. I keep thinking that surely something I have around the house has got to be worth a lot. I love to watch Antiques Roadshow and see the expressions when people find out something is of great value.
Moktar Msi from Djibouti, Djibouti on September 28, 2014:
thank you for u telling interesting historic
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on September 17, 2014:
Thanks for stopping by and commenting Jyoti. I'm glad the article was useful.
Jyoti Kothari from Jaipur on September 16, 2014:
I own several oil paintings and this article will help me in evaluating those. Thanks for a nice article with magnificent photos.
Rated up and useful.
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on August 29, 2014:
Hi Susan, sorry to hear that you haven't found an undiscovered old master, but glad that you still love your paintings. I'm a great believer in enjoying art rather than fretting about its value. Sometimes people get lucky and find that the well-loved picture on the wall is actually very valuable, but this is a comparatively rare occurrence. Most original works of art in circulation are by amateur artists, or artists who are relatively unknown outside their local area. This doesn't make them bad paintings. It just means that they're not yet on a collector's tick list.
Susanna Duffy from Melbourne Australia on August 28, 2014:
Great advice here. I've found out that my paintings aren't valuable! No worries, I just like the look of them on the wall
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on August 21, 2014:
Hi Brenda, you're absolutely right in your idea that people are always on the look-out for interesting pieces that don't necessarily have high values. My advice to new collectors who have lots of taste, but not too much money, is to buy the things they like, that give them pleasure, rather than be too concerned about investment value. A really good place for new collectors to start is at local art exhibitions. There are some fabulously talented amateur artists around who don't have a gift for self-promotion, yet turn out some amazing work that can often be bought for very modest sums. Good luck with your ebaying. You'll learn so much from researching the items you sell, that you'll soon be an expert!
Treasures By Brenda from Canada on August 18, 2014:
I'm an eBay seller who does not know much about art. I am trying to learn a bit. I believe that there is a market for interesting pieces that are not necessarily very valuable but that are unique. People are looking for pieces with which to decorate their homes that are affordable and different than what is easily accessed in the market.
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on November 18, 2013:
I do not offer an appraisal service via this web-site, and I have deleted your comment as it includes your personal email, which I believe you might wish to keep private from casual readers of this article.
It sounds as though you have done some research on Ensor yourself, but realistically, without a signature, it may be difficult to prove the link. It's possible that a previous owner of the painting also thought it was Ensor's work, and 'attributed' it by writing the name on the reverse. Without seeing the painting I can't comment on it, but if you are convinced that there is a possibility that you have a genuine painting by this artist, you might try contacting the James Ensor Online Museum, and asking for the contact details of an expert on Ensor.
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on September 23, 2013:
Hi DRG, Thank you for the excellent suggestion. I will definitely put something in about engravings. It's amazing how many times I've reviewed and tweaked this hub, and yet that never occurred to me!
Felix J Hernandez from All over the USA on September 17, 2013:
I use to own that Goya etching. It's from "La Tauromaquia" A bull fighting series Goya etched. The whole collection is awesome to view. Good research. I think you should mention engravings. Engravings came before etchings when acid was not being applied thus making it a greater task to scratch an image unto a surface. Engravings are worth more because they were harder to make and of course older.
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on February 24, 2013:
Thank you for your positive feedback, Dawn Ca. I'm glad you've found some useful information here.
I haven't come across ELPEC items before, but I did manage to find out the following on-line: 'The ELPEC Company was registered in 1919 by C E Pascal & P Lloyd. It was initially a brassfounders and then specialised in reproduction copper and brassware'.
If you go on to ebay you may well find, as I did, that there are examples of ELPEC brassware such as toasting forks etc. I also came across some pictures made by ELPEC, and I wonder if these are the kind of thing you have? Good luck with your research, and thanks for commenting.
Dawn Ca on February 23, 2013:
Hi, I recently came across 4 pieces of art that I would like to research. Not knowing where to begin, I got on the computer. I found your page very interesting and I want to thank you. It gives me a place to start.
One of the pieces is a tin replica of the Lords supper, It was handmade in England. In one corner on theback is an indented stamp that says "ELPEC" made in england. I would appreciate any comments anyone has. ... Thank You
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on February 13, 2013:
To the reader who recently e-mailed me via hubpages regarding a recently acquired horse picture, I do not offer a valuation or appraisal service, and most of my best advice regarding research is included in this article or in it's companion article 'Who is the Artist of this Picture?'. Please follow the advice detailed above, and if you are still needing help, I can recommend the Webanswers web-site.
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on December 13, 2012:
Richard, you e-mailed me via HubPages to ask if I could help you with regard to an oil painting by C. Zimmermann. I don't reply to personal e-mails as this in turn reveals my private e-mail address, so I hope that you return to this article. This page is not intended to be a consultation site, but rather, a guide for you to do your own research. I did , however, quickly check the Art Sales Index, and found only one painting by a C. Zimmerman (only one 'n' at the end) and this was sold at Christies in New York in 1988 for $1,000. Researching old paintings can be quite time-consuming, and this is why most appraisal sites charge a fee for their services. If you are unable to undertake your own research for whatever reasn, I always recommend that you approach an auction house that specialises in art, and ask for their advice. Alternatively, you might try posting an image of your painting on a web-site such as WebAnswers where there are people waiting to give advice for free.
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on December 09, 2012:
Hi cmaycraig, how wonderful to have a work by James Ensor! I don't think you need to send your painting to Europe for authentication. If you could get it to a high end auctioneers such as Sothebys or Christies you should get all the help and advice you need. There are examples of James Ensor's work in museums in the USA, most notably in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, so I'm sure there'll be plenty of positive interest once you have had this work authenticated. Good luck!
cmaycraig on December 08, 2012:
Hello Amanda! I am new here and glad I was able to find you. Your knowledge on this subject is astounding! I was wondering if you could perhaps assist me in finding someone who can authenticate a James Ensor painting I have. It's a small oil painting on paper. The internet doesn't really have any images of Ensor's works unless it's the very famous Christ Entry into Brussels. I'm even considering sending it to his museum in Europe but of course that entails so many would-be disasters. Please point me in the right direction. I live in Austin TX. Thanks so much!
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on November 19, 2012:
Hi Catine48, thank you for your great comment. The arts are certainly addictive, and once you develop a love for art, you never lose it. I'm glad you found this hub helpful, and good luck with researching your art collection.
Catine48 on November 18, 2012:
Simply great information with honestly and directness.
Finally, free to search my collection of old paintings I
collected over the years, at estate sales, etc. etc.Missed
my position at Original Gump's in Jade Room and Oriental
Antiques, when we dealt with selling to Museums and Collectors
all over the world, My fight for Organic Gardening and such
was great, but I missed the Fine Arts, so over years, would
sit down and simply look at the wonders humanity created
and that satisfied me, with a joyl
I loved them all but now? Must move onward...this was a great
insight for a new start. Thank Youl.
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on November 09, 2012:
Hi Sharonecali, thank you for posting this. I will leave your comment here for anyone to see that might be interested, but I would caution anyone who is contemplating using this site to also contact one of the large well-known auction houses for their advice. As you know, anyone can set up a site like this, and the kind of paintings listed can literally sell for, thousands, tens of thousands, and in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is very easy to check on past auction results, so no-one should put their trust in an unknown web-site without doing some research first.
sharonecali on November 08, 2012:
I recently stumbled across a website that buys old paintings from the 13th-19th centuries. They offer free appraisals based on past auction results. I found this particular website to be useful and informative. It is at least a good starting point for determining the value of an original masterpiece:
westhighlandart on August 12, 2012:
Amanda gives great advice, some of which is in my new book The Art Hunters Handbook. (See it on Amazon.) We also offer tips on how to find valuable art at garage sales, flea markets and thrift shops. In 2011, Alison Beldsoe bought a painting by Fern Coppedge at her hot dog stand which we helped her sell at auction for $30,000. The art is out there. Let us help you find it. (Don't overlook weird modern art, some of which is worth a fortune.) We offer free art appraisals (for original oil paintings) on our website at AmericanArtAdvisor.com. Share your discoveries with us. You may be in the next edition of The Art Hunters Handbook!
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on April 06, 2012:
Hi Bradvv60, this article is intended as a guide to help others research their own items. Research of this nature is time-consuming, and requires a lot of patience and perseverence. I have sometimes helped people out in this way, but on this occasion, I'm afraid I must decline. There are a number of on-line appraisers who specialise in undertaking research for a small fee. You might try one of those, or alternatively research the picture yourself using the tips outlined above. Without actually seeing the item, or at least an image of it, it is almost impossible to give accurate guidance. Good luck with your search.
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on March 17, 2012:
Thank you for the compliment Buckleupdorothy. I'm glad you enjoyed the article!
buckleupdorothy from Istanbul, Turkey on March 13, 2012:
Fantastic - interesting and clearly explained. Voted up!
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on September 17, 2011:
Hi Carrie, glad you found some useful info here. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.
carriethomson from United Kingdom on September 16, 2011:
WOW Amanda what a brilliant hub!! it was great to read. though i dont own any such painting my self it was a wealth of info. thanx again and voted up
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on August 31, 2011:
Thanks for stopping by and commenting Wilrhoades. Glad you found the information useful.
wilrhoades on August 30, 2011:
Interesting hub. Glad to find lots of information here.Good to learn more things from this hub. Thanks.
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on August 04, 2011:
Hi Rayann, these pictures certainly sound as though they might be original. You need to get them professionally appraised. If you live in or near a big town or city, search the internet for your nearest auction house or salerooms. Many auction houses are happy to give an initial appraisal by phone or via email, but they would need to see the actual items to give a true opinion. Alternatively you could use an on-line appraisal service. Good luck with your search!
Rayann on August 04, 2011:
hi we have 2 mathcing paintings they are in really old frames with glass they are not signed or dated but in there original frames they have the old pegs in the back and i can see the brush strokes, my grandmother had said she had gotten them from her mother whom had them hanging in her house when she was a younin im just wondering if there is any way to determin whom they are by or the value!
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on July 02, 2011:
Thank you for stopping by and commenting.
Fastest Car Rider from California on June 27, 2011:
I am newbie here I hope You make my stay nice here
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on May 30, 2011:
Thanks for stopping by and commenting Obscure Treasures
Obscure_Treasures from USA on May 30, 2011:
Very helpful hub!
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on May 23, 2011:
Thanks for stopping by and commenting, smcopywrite.
smcopywrite from all over the web on May 22, 2011:
very nice information to have when our economy is such as it is. thanks for the hub.
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on May 05, 2011:
Hi Joe Giannino, I don't know whether you have been back to this hub to read my response, but this is to let you know that I have now deleted your comment to protect your privacy, as you have included a phone number.
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on April 30, 2011:
Joe, you might find the following links helpful:
Certainly the first painting that you mention is by a listed Danish artist with many paintings sold at auction. My advice is to seek out your nearest reputable auction house and request a professional appraisal. You may be able to do this on-line in the first instance, but for a realistic valuation, the appraiser will need to see the paintings in person. Good luck.
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on April 27, 2011:
Good luck Marsha. There are many lost masterpieces around waiting to be re-discovered. You just never know!
marshacanada from Vancouver BC on April 27, 2011:
Thanks for this helpful Hub Amanda Severn. Voted up and useful. I am going to examine my old pictures.
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on March 23, 2011:
Hi Fay, that sounds like an amazing find. Who was the artist? There are a lot of very important paintings out there that have gone missing over the centuries, and every so often a real gem turns up. You are very lucky.