Robert Setters Graham Setters British Columbia Canada appraisal and consulting                                                                                                        JMW Turner the source
      Paintings - Oriental Art - General Antiques

                      What one should look for when acquiring artwork:
             Quality... originality... support... rarity... condition

Quality might best be defined as the ability of an artwork to rest comfortably within its format. This takes skill and practice on the part of the artist, and it is the 'master' with the greatest ability to present a bondable unity for the viewer who gains 'genius' status.

This is surely a two-way process by which the viewer must also have the harmony of spirit to appreciate the artwork.

Originality brings the artwork as close to a creator's genius as possible. Firstly the object must be done by the hand of the artist as opposed to a reproduction; and secondly, it should be as central as possible to one of the artist's most innovative periods.





Support for an artist can come in many ways, some orthodox and others revolutionary. Orthodox support might come by way of: prizes, medals, and professional designations from institutions (for example: JMW Turner RA, or James Orrock RI, ROI). Institutions by virtue of their bureaucratic nature tend to reward the traditional artist as opposed to the most innovative one. There are many more traditional artists than true artistic geniuses.

The French impressionists won very little orthodox support, but were very revolutionary. Price listings for their work and the volume of literature about them attest to their posthumous importance. Turner was also revolutionary and this is what bolstered his fame; much more-so than the support he received from the Royal Academy (R. A).

Rarity is a result of limited supply and this in and of itself will increase the price of an artwork. If the art and historic value of an item is great, and the supply is limited, competition will make such work hard to find and more expensive.

Condition is a relative term. How old or fragile an artwork is will determine the amount of degradation or damage that is acceptable. Seldom does one find a Renaissance sculpture or a medieval picture unscathed. Conversely, experimentation with untested media has resulted in substantial conservation problems for modern works. 

general advice on collecting is available by contacting Robert and Graham Setters



          - Is it portable?
          - Is it easy to store?
- Is it easy to protect; does it fit into a vault or safety deposit box?
          - Lifestyle; do you have a small or large home, apartment or country estate?

         - Consider the proposed use of your potential new treasure, and if it is suitable for its new location and purpose.
         - Shipping; will it require special packaging?
         - Longevity; is it subject to environmental degradation?

        - This is good for immediate resale.
        - Conversely, as an intermediate to long term investment, popularity is a negative factor (a fad soon passes).

        - Is the piece from an important collector, dealer, or collection? This helps to establish authenticity and gives the piece prestige. Although celebrity bestowed from a former owner may perk interest in the short term, memories of most famous people fade with time.
        - Has the piece sold through a major auction house and are they still willing to stand behind it?
        - Collect as much literature and history on a piece after acquisition; this will prove invaluable if resold.

        - The dealer motto: “buy low/sell dear”; if you choose the right dealer he/she will help you accomplish the same.
        - Predict popular trends before they become full blown.

        - Is the piece important enough to interest major dealers, museums, or major auction galleries?
        - If an item is part of a collection, lesser important pieces are acceptable additions.

        - Is this easily established?
        - Have similar items sold at important venues?

        - Recognizable items (antiques) are easier to classify; and therefore, often develop into unquestioned commodities.
 This is helpful for authentication but may suggest the piece is not all that rare.

        - Is the item attractive to nations with strong economies relative to ones own?  Such demand can factor into the costs of acquisition but can be a beneficial way to increase equity and store wealth. Such items are best purchased in ones own country in order to maximize this benefit.

        - This is important but is relative to age, material, and rarity. 

 If your object is aesthetically appealing, then your potential new treasure will command greater appreciation.
       - Has your potential treasure been produced by a skilled artisan, craftsman or talented artist?
       - Decorative quality increases demand and raises price.

       - Historic (appreciated by scholars and connoisseurs)
       - Heritage and sentimental value
       - Educational value
       - Cross-cultural appreciation

       - Negative and positive publicity
      - Ivory collecting is a good example. One must consider the legal consequences of international transport of prohibited items and material. Although an important historic carving medium, recent negative attitudes towards its use have been very influential politically and socially; which in turn has affected its desirability as a collectable. Gun collecting is affected likewise.
      - Impressionist paintings, the Art Deco style, Ming porcelain... recognize how publicity has reinforced the popularity of these and other collectibles before deciding to purchase.

      - Heirloom, heritage

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                  Institutional evolution          connoisseurship         Art/science          Forensics

Source: JMW Turner Joseph Mallord William, National Gallery of Canada Metropolitan Museum of Art Museum of Modern Art the British Museum art museum art history Christie’s Sotheby’s Tate Gallery art world painting old master paintings sea piece Shipwreck Martin Butlin Wildenstein Institute Yale Center British Art The Getty Getty Research Institute provenance Clore Gallery Tate Gallery Turner Gallery curator museum  antique forensic fingerprint conservator International Foundation for Art Research IFAR English landscape art historian art criticism IIC CCI Canadian Conservation Institute McCrone Research Institute artist artists pictures paintings gallery galleries drawing picture biography collection archive history of art discovery discoveries discovery ca discovery forensic science Tate Gallery London the tate Turner Society Turner Society News TSN old master masterpiece Rembrandt Picasso Francoise Boucher Monet Boucher Claude Monet Angelica Kauffmann Murillo Whistler James McNeill Whistler Rubens Peter Paul Rubens Renior Claude Titian Joshua Reynolds fakes forgeries connoisseurship connoisseur art expert renaissance Getty Museum James Orrock Orrock Sir J.C. Robinson Turner portrait John Paul Getty Agnew Agnew’s antiques research specialist consultant expertise professional expert witness Oxford Cambridge Frick Collection curator Andrew Mellon Goya Manet Emily Carr Manet