Old Masters week this past January in New York saw record setting sells from multiple auction houses. Fra Bartolommeo’s tondo of the Madonna and Child sold for $13 million, Thomas Gainsborough’s pastel Portrait of Caroline, 4th Duchess of Marlborough sold for $2.4 million, an artist record was set for Claude Lorrain when A wooded landscape was bought for $6.1 million, and Pompeo Batoni’s skillful Susanna and the Elders sold for $11.4 million just to name a few.
All in all, over $126 million were spent on Old Masters, so what does that tell us about the Old Master market? Well first it tells us that there is a strong demand for the works. Whether they are paintings, reliefs, drawings, woodcuts, or etchings, there are buyers who are willing to pay, which means the value is consistent and will likely continue to increase. In particular when dealing with Old Masters there is a mindset among collectors that the exclusivity, rarity, and age of the work affect the value which is certainly true, making them such a wonderful investment.
This is the second thing that the phenomenal sales tell us, investing in Old Masters is worth the payoff. Old Masters are more difficult to navigate because of the different states and attributed to labels which can be off putting for art collectors, but with the right information, informed buyers are getting a wonderful investment. When purchasing from the right sources, a buyer can not only get what is visually and emotionally appealing to them, but have the security of knowing when the time is right, they can then sell the work for a profit.
One Old Master in particular that I favor is Albrecht Dürer, and my favorite work by him is one we currently have in our gallery titled Knight, Death, & Devil, 1513. His attention to detail in this piece, especially in regards to the contrast of light and dark, breathes life into a fantastical scene that makes the viewer feel transported to a time long ago. That is the beauty within every Old Master piece, whether it be Dürer or Rembrandt, portraits or landscape, paintings or etchings, the amount of detail, dedication, and sense of intimacy created by the artist make such a work a delight to own.So when thinking about what art to invest in, take another look at Old Masters and you might just be surprised at the wonders that await.
Old Master sales information taken from the article: Surprising records set at New York’s Old Master sales By Paul Jeromack. Published February 1, 2013 on The Art Newspaper website.