Approaching the Old Masters –

Approaching the Old Masters –

bruegelOld Master paintings are the quiet achievers of the art world – conscientiously going about their business and becoming more valuable at a slow but steady pace. When the contemporary art market is at full speed the poor old masters tend to be pushed aside and seriously neglected. The most significant benefit that contemporary art has over the Old Masters is that the artist is still alive and able to do everything in their power to capitalise on a bull market. This is not, however, a bad thing. Because the market for Old Masters is not anywhere near as prone to inflated prices caused by the unjustified hype that plagues the contemporary art market, the market for Old Masters is far more stable and predictable. Stability and predictability are two factors that are highly desirable characteristics for any sort of investment which is why the work of the Old Masters are such a good long term investment.

Now that the contemporary art market has begun to suffer as result of the speculation, inflation and hype that defined the most recent bull market run, the stable and predictable Old Masters have once again come back into favour. To be able to take full advantage of the solid market for Old Master art one must first have a good understanding of the old masters and their work. Unfortunately, successfully investing in works by the Old Masters is not as easy as it may seem and is best approached by those with a scholarly understanding of the work of the old masters due mainly to the factors that determine the value of an old master work of art. This doesn’t mean that someone with limited knowledge of the Old Masters should not invest in such works but there are definitely certain things that are vital to be aware of before approaching the market for old masters.

Over the next few months I will be writing several posts on the Old Masters and the market for their work which will provide some basic information that should be helpful to anyone interested in purchasing or selling a Old Master work of art. To begin with I want to look at exactly what an Old Master work of art is and how such works are defined. According to the British National Gallery, Old Master is a term widely applied to painters and their works which come from the period between the 13th and 18th centuries. Yes, the definition of an Old Master is extremely vague which can prove problematic when it comes to purchasing a work by an old master. The reason this is problematic is because of the fact that not every work of art produced between the 13th and 18th centuries is an Old Master and will not be an investment quality work of art as the definition provided by the British National Gallery would suggest. This is where things start getting interesting.

To be continued…………

Image: ‘The Tower of Babel’ by Pieter Bruegel The Elder,

**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of,
writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for
Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.

8 Responses

  1. Thanks Nicholas. I will be looking forward to your view of this topic.

  2. A friend of mine suggested to take a look at your site coz of great stuff you have here. I must say your blog is very interesting.

    By the way you might be interested to join DIRECT ART AUSTRALIA’S monthly photo contest. Winners will have the chance to turn their photos into hand-painted portraits. You can check out their Facebook page at

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  4. Signor Nicholas Forrest sono onorato di conferire con lei, riguardo il mercato d’ arte degli antichi maestri. Il passato ha fatto il suo corso e ha trasmesso il suo fascino, ciò non vuole dire che il contemporaneo venga sacrificato nel mercato attuale in crisi.Le opere dei vecchi maesti sono da destinare ai musei come patrimonio culturale dell’Umanità, parlare di marcato a mio avviso è dissacrante e riduttivo per l’arte stessa. L’artista contemporaneo ha bisogno di molte certezze, soprattutto da coloro che sono addetti ai lavori. Spero che il mio pensiero faccia riflettere chi ama l’arte veramente e non speculi solamente ad un risultato economico, emarginando la contemporaneità come elemento economico da secondo piano. Io che nell’arco dlla mia vita ho stimato e continuo a stimare tutte le forme di arte sono convinto che l’importanza comunicativa che essa esercita è molto influente per migliorare le sorti della Umana esistenza,poichè anche nel passato gli artisti hanno avuto il suo ruolo fondamentale. Un grande augurio a tutti coloro che hanno rispetto per la contemporaneità dell’arte per sostenerla.
    Walter Excuse me because I do not succeed to express to me in English language

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