Price Points

Ev­ery once in a while … the painted por­trait of a com­plete stranger is com­pletely cap­ti­vat­ing.

Cottages & Bungalows - - Extra -

Where you pur­chase your vin­tage por­traits will have an im­pact on how much each piece will cost—garage sales on one end and art gal­leries on the other—but there are other fac­tors in the work of art it­self that in­flu­ence its price.

• Con­di­tion: Flak­ing paint, rips or punc­tures to the can­vas and mark­ings will all lower the value of any art­work. The vis­i­ble signs of age can add to a paint­ing’s charm, but if com­plete per­fec­tion is your goal, fac­tor the cost of restora­tion into your budget.

• Artis­tic Qual­ity: As of­ten as we think “my five-year-old could have done that” when we look at works in a mu­seum, the mis­takes made in am­a­teur­ish art and ab­sent from the work of more re­fined tal­ent can be un­set­tling. Or, con­versely, ap­peal­ing! Ex­pect to see por­traits with greater de­tail car­ry­ing a higher price tag.

• Me­dia: Oil por­traits are gen­er­ally con­sid­ered the most de­sir­able, fol­lowed by acrylic and wa­ter­color. Sketches in pas­tel, char­coal or graphite will be sig­nif­i­cantly less ex­pen­sive.

• Sig­na­tures: Th­ese lit­tle in­scrip­tions are worth not­ing. A rec­og­niz­able sig­na­ture means the piece can be re­searched and, if the artist is recorded, a price point can be more ac­cu­rately eval­u­ated. and cause us to won­der what each sit­ter is think­ing. We create sto­ries that suit our per­cep­tion of their per­son­al­ity and, in do­ing so, be­come fa­mil­iar with some­one we’ve never met.

Th­ese sto­ries told in the ex­pres­sive faces of por­trait paint­ings lend them­selves to the over­all nar­ra­tives we create through our in­te­rior dé­cor. The in­ter­preted in­tel­li­gence of a per­son with bright eyes and thick glasses fits right in with the stu­dious am­biance of a read­ing nook, whereas the flir­ta­tious spirit seen in un­ruly curls and a know­ing smile cre­ates a com­pletely dif­fer­ent mood.


As with any work of art, con­sider how th­ese pieces will work with the room as a whole when choos­ing where to hang them. Dis­play­ing one por­trait alone in­creases that char­ac­ter’s im­por­tance in the sur­round­ing space, perfect for show­ing off a paint­ing that is large, highly de­tailed or de­picts a unique per­son­al­ity.

If you plan to as­sem­ble a col­lec­tion, co­or­di­nate a theme that uni­fies the group as a whole. Look for pieces with sim­i­lar color palettes and brush­work, or create a grid-like gallery wall by us­ing can­vases that are all the same size. For a more whim­si­cal take, limit the dis­play to por­traits of peo­ple with sim­i­lar at­tributes, such as men with im­pres­sive fa­cial hair or women and their pets. In the end, a home filled with por­traits is filled with char­ac­ter.

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