Sunday, December 11, 2016

How is the value of an oil painting determined?

An old tree and a younger one, oil on canvas by Ashok M.

Many wonder at the huge price of works of arts like some oil paintings on Canvas that are auctioned by leading auction houses from time to time while they find other works of art in a flee market going for a few dollars, some that seem just as nice or nicer.

How is the value of a work of art fixed? An answer to this can be found if we go back to the beginnings of human civilization. At first, humans traded goods in kind, for example a sack of grains for an animal skin. In time however humans invented coins and currency that were easier to carry to the market. A sack of gain was considered equivalent to a certain number of coins as was an animal skin. Thus based on the demand and supply of goods, monetary values were determined for all the things humans need.

The invention of money also permitted humans to accumulate and store wealth in a compact manner. In time similar values became associated with precious metals such as gold and silver, precious jewels etc. that do not rust or corrode easily and thus can be kept for generations. When worn as jewellery, one can wear them and show off and perhaps look pretty too. While jewels can adorn a body, art objects can adorn value of homes and palaces as well as also become a means of storing wealth. Humans have placed a high value on certain chosen art objects.

While the value of a coin is controlled by governing authorities, the value of art objects is controlled by public perception about that value. They have placed a high value on some oil on Canvas paintings such as the Mona Lisa and on the works of certain artists, not necessarily because they are the best works of art that are around but simply because that is how public opinion developed. Certainly the chosen works have to be professional enough so that the paint does not peal of or change adversely in a few years for then it would be worthless as an object for wealth. In order to be assured if it is so, it is best for the painting to be an old one, at least a decade or so old. Most certainly the painting must have enough aesthetic, emotional or intellectual impact so that the owner may display it proudly on one of his walls if he so desires. Most important it should be original, authentic and unique for if it is mass produced it cannot have any substantial value unless it is a currency note for which a government assigns a value. This requires that the work is authenticated and certified by a highly reputed auction house, art establishment or the artist himself/herself if alive.

There are times when a rich benefactor in order to find an excuse to reward an artist has purchased a work of art for a huge amount and that became its starting value and there are other times when an artist sold his works for a pittance but because they had a long life, they acquired a huge value as they changed hands.In the ultimate analysis however an artist invests a part of his life and soul in a work of art and it is this determines its value.

If a work is never sold then it has an unknown or zero value. This author has also produced some oil paintings as a diversion from his professional career form time to time. Because it was not necessary to sell these for a living, he has not made any serious attempt to sell them. This author has destroyed most of his works on canvas as he went along  feeling it is not a nice idea to clutter the world with works of arts that are not the best but a few have been gifted and around half a dozen framed to adorn the walls of his own home as the one shown in the photo with this post. How much would I sell it for if someone asked for it? I came up with the figure of 125,000 Dollars so that has to be around the value of this oil painting if sold, unsold or gifted.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Renaming old works of Art – Dark Clouds of Armageddon

Dark Clouds of Armageddon, Oil on Canvas by Ashok M.

When a work of art remains in a single hand, that of the artist and creator, he may leave it unnamed, name it and change the name if he so desires. Once it is sold, he no longer has a right on it and it is not appropriate to do so. Personally, I have been a scientist and academic and painted of and on over the last several years when time and inclination permitted. Many of the works were destroyed later in the belief that an oil and canvas has a very long life and I would not like to leave for the world something that is not the best. Not having to depend on art for a living, I have also not sold my paintings. Some have been gifted and others (about half a dozen) remain in my possession and adorn the walls of my home. At times I use a picture as illustration for a note or an article. Today morning, I added one to an article (here) about a possible apocalypse the world might be headed for. It was earlier been named ‘Dark Clouds over Syria” but today I gave it a new name – Dark Clouds of Armageddon

Referenced Note:

Monday, January 18, 2016

Spiritual Words

Today I took a portion of an image from an older oil painting illustrated in this blog and with some digital alterations and text ( Words of Buddha that I found on Facebook) produced this poster that I shared on twitter

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Beauty of Classical Art

Nothing compares with the beauty of classical oil paintings on Canvas. Art Image accompanying this post: Landschaft mit einem Wasserfall by Ludwig Philipp Strack

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Artistic Digital Posters

A digital poster commenting on the profit motive

Nowadays many digital posters are shared on social media. These are photos or art work with a message or text inscribed on them and at times they have artistic merit of their own quite apart from the message they may convey. I quite liked this one prepared for a blog post on the state of the economy. An interested reader can read about that in a companion blog at

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Buddha Purnima

Buddha by Ashok

Today is Buddha Purnima, the annual celebration day of Buddha. he advocated non-violence with love and compassion for all life. This image is a digital art rendering of Buddha based on a photo of a brass statue of Buddha in the author's home. A magical thing happened during the creation, I had signed my name in white but it changed to silver, I believe by the grace of Buddha. Praise the Lord of Love and Compassion - Gautam Buddha. .Please feel free to copy this image and use anywhere you like as long as you give this link, but please do not modify it any way. Love and peace to all visitors to this blog.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Friday, September 12, 2014

Treasures of Travancore

Digital Art - A Pendant for the Queen of Travancore

While many of the precious treasures of India were taken away by the British during British Rule of India changing the United Kingdom of the time from an impoverished one to one of the richest in the world, some treasures were hidden from British eyes. One of these were the ancient treasures of Travancore because they were hidden securely in temple vaults. The temple and its assets belong to Lord Padmanabhaswamy, and were controlled by a trust run by the former Royal family of Travancore.

Wikipedia has this to say about its ancient treasures: -

In June 2011, the Supreme Court directed the authorities to open the secret chambers of the temple for inspection of the items kept inside. The temple has 6 vaults labeled as A to F for book keeping purpose by the Court. While vaults A and B have been unopened over the past many years, vaults C to F have been opened from time to time. ----The review of the temple's underground vaults was undertaken by a seven-member panel appointed by the Supreme Court of India to generate an inventory, leading to the enumeration of a vast collection of articles that are traditionally kept under lock and key. A detailed inventory of the temple assets, consisting of gold, jewels, and other valuables was made. Several 18th century Napoleonic era coins were found, as well as a three-and-a-half feet tall gold idol of Mahavishnu studded with rubies and emeralds, and ceremonial attire for adorning the deity in the form of 16-part gold anki weighing almost 30 kilograms (66 lb) together with gold coconut shells, one studded with rubies and emeralds. In 2012, an expert committee had been appointed to investigate these objects, which include coins of the Roman Empire. ----- This revelation has solidified the status of the Padmanabhaswamy temple as one of the wealthiest temples in India having some INR320 billion (US$5.3 billion) in gold, coins and other assets. It is estimated that the value of the monumental items is close to INR1.2 trillion (US$20 billion), making it the richest temple in the world. If the antique value is taken into account, these assets could be worth ten times the current market price. One of the oldest existing estimates, which can be considered to be at least as reliable as any other made since the discovery of the hidden treasure (or assets) of the Temple in 2011, was done by the Travancore Royal Family itself in 1931. According to the then drawn-up estimate, the riches contained in Vault B, which is the only vault of the six that is unopened so far, since the discovery of the treasure, were worth INR12,000 crores. Considering the subsequent inflation of the rupee, and the increase in the prices of gold and other precious metals and stones since, the treasure in the unopened vault B alone, would be worth at least rupees 50 trillion (US$1 trillion) in present-day terms, before the cultural value being factored in.

The Temple at Travancore

Temple image modified from

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Perfect Symmetry in Leather

Perfect Symmetry in Leather

A display of leather objects in perfect symmetry at the leather workshop of Master Craftsman Ariantole

*Account and photo - fictional digital art