Friday, April 20, 2012

ART FIND: Trick of the Eye

Michelangelo Meucci "Trompe-l’œil Still Life of Ducks" 1887

A common question I often get from art appraisal clients is whether they should spare the expense of getting an Insurance appraisal. Most insurance companies require an official appraisal every 2-4 years on artworks valued at over $5,000. This enables collectors to protect your artwork in the case of damage, theft, fire, loss, etc.

In the case of this month’s artwork submission, “(Untitled) Ducks” by artist Michelangelo Meucci -- I would certainly suggest having an official Insurance appraisal completed. Submitted by Santa Barbara, CA area residents, this painting was inherited from their great-uncle's daughter. She studied art in France around the turn-of-the-century and brought the painting back to the U.S.

Michelangelo Meucci (1840-1909) was an Italian artist specializing in trompe-l’œil painting. Trompe-l’œil (meaning “trick of the eye”) was a highly realistic style meant to create an optical illusion. Artists would meticulously paint subjects intended to appear in 3-dimensions. While the style was popular throughout art history, trompe-l’œil painting had a resurgence of popularity both in Europe and the U.S. during the 19th century.

This painting, done in Florence, Italy in 1887, depicts three dead birds hung on a wooden board. The artist’s skillful technique makes the background texture of the painting appear to be wood rather than canvas.

Meucci’s work has sold for up to $12,484 at auction, with most paintings selling in the $3,000-$5,000 range. At 35” x 46” including the frame, this is one of the largest Meucci paintings that has been on the market.

It appears to be in excellent condition and depicts a common subject for Meucci, giving it a value on the high end of his market. If this painting were to be sold in a gallery it would likely be sold for $5,000-$7,000 with an estimated insurance value of up to 50% higher.

As this painting is over 100 years old and highly valuable, an appraiser would strongly recommend having an official insurance appraisal done. Insurance values should be diligently updated every 2 years, even during stable markets. It is particularly important to evaluate works when there are either rapid increases or decreases in market values, such as our current economy.

Artworks that have risen in value, but have not been reappraised at a higher price, will only be insured for the old appraisal price -- in the case of loss, damage, or theft. For artworks that have decreased in value, an updated art appraisal can save clients from overpaying on insurance premiums. Also, if an overvalued artwork is damaged or stolen, an insurer may refuse to reimburse a client for the higher value if it is not a current value (even if the client has been paying a higher premium to protect that overvalued artwork).

This month’s painting, “(Untitled) Ducks” Michelangelo Meucci is quite a treasure! While an insurance art appraisal may seem like an extra expense, it is important to protect a unique and irreplaceable artwork such as this.

READERS: We need your submissions! Please email us a photo of your painting, drawing, or sculpture for next month’s ART FIND.

Alissa Anderson Campbell is an art appraiser for Anderson Shea Art Appraisals. She specializes in appraising European and American art for insurance, resale value, estate, tax, and charitable donation. Campbell is a member of the Appraisers Association of America (USPAP-compliant).

* This is not a formal appraisal. An appraisal is a legal document, generally for insurance purposes, written by a qualified expert who has examined the artwork in-person and is paid for by the owner of the item. An appraisal involves an extensive amount of research to establish authenticity, provenance, composition, method of construction, and other important attributes of a particular object. This article is restricted-use and is intended for educational purposes only.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Marion Pike "Clouds & Mountains" Courtesy: Coastal View News

This month’s ARTFIND is painting by Marion Hewlett Pike. The painting, entitled “Clouds & Mountains” was given to the readers' mother-in-law, who met Pike while living at Deer Springs Ranch in Little Sycamore Canyon.

Marion Hewlett Pike (American, 1914-1998) grew up in San Francisco and attended Stanford University where she studied Asian art. She had her first one-artist show in 1955 at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor. Pike also traveled throughout Europe and became known as an established portrait artist.

Pike, along with other women artists of the period attended the important California art schools and explored compelling aesthetic innovations of modernist thought.

Pike was best known for her portraits of Ronald Reagan, Norton Simon, and Coco Chanel but she also painted landscapes and still-lifes. The painting, “Clouds & Mountains” was likely painted around 1953 while Pike was staying at her friend's ranch in Malibu after her husband left her. One of Pike’s first pastel paintings, the dark palette and ominous black mountains appear to reflect her sad spirits of the time.

Marion Pike is considered a listed artist but her auction sales are limited. A gallery recently sold a comparable work for $650. At auction, a small painting sold at for $485. As “Clouds & Mountains” is of a higher quality than the one sold at auction, it would be estimated to have a higher value. The painting is also quite large (18"x24") and appears to be in good condition. It is in the original frame, which can add value to a painting, when it is being appraised. In a gallery setting, retail pricing is often double to triple auction pricing.

A growing demand exists for early California paintings but, still, the selling prices for quality works by most women artists is still not at the level of their male colleagues.

If I were do an official appraisal* for Insurance purposes, I would take into account the pricing comparables, size, provenance, and condition. As appraisers, we also factor in quality, rarity, and the increased value of a painting that has not been on the market for nearly 50 years.

Marion Pike’s “Clouds & Mountains” would have a Retail Replacement Value for Insurance of approximately $1,000. Keep in mind that values can change quickly and insurance companies require art appraisals to be done every 2-4 years on artworks.

Retail Replacement Value is defined as the highest amount in terms of US dollars that would be required to replace a property with another of similar age, quality, origin, appearance, provenance, and condition with a reasonable length of time in an appropriate and relevant market. When applicable, sales and/or import tax, commissions and/or premiums are included in this amount.