Researching Fine Art
Disclaimer: The information below is intended to guide you to professional sources of information. Please do not make a buying or selling decision based solely on what you read here. Blatant errors and omissions reported by email to will be gratefully accepted.
Why isn't artist X listed on your site?
Keep in mind that our site is an Internet search tool, not a forum for assessing which artists are "museum-quality" and which aren't. If an artist's work doesn't happen to be viewable online at one of the sites we have indexed, then they won't be in our database.
If you want to suggest an artist for inclusion, please look over our guidelines. Note that we already have a backlog of suggestions, and adding links in this way is a rather time-consuming process.
Can you tell me everything about artist X?
Pretty much everything we can tell you about an artist we put on the artist pages. If you need more than is available at any of the sites the Artcyclopedia links to, I suggest heading to Alta Vista and Google, which I find to be the largest and most effective search engines.
Another excellent place to research fine artists is the Grove Dictionary of Art site. It's a pay site, but as of this writing you can still register for a 24-hour free trial.
You can also find the print edition of the Grove in better libraries. For better-known artists, you'll probably find entire books about them there, or within the inter-library loan system.
How much is this etching/edition by artist X worth?
Valuation of prints and etchings is very complicated, and I don't have any resources in this area whatsoever. I recommend finding a gallery who has some knowledge of the field and paying them for an appraisal - the cost is usually reasonable. For collectible artists, a site like Ebay may also give you some insight into the real-world value of your work.
How much is this painting by artist X worth?
Here are some tools to help you come up with some idea of what your original work of art might be worth.
Prices for works by a given artist vary widely and wildly for many reasons, including:
One good online resource is Artcult, which has a freely accessible database of price ranges for many artists. And if you are willing to pay, you can get full auction results online at several sites, including artnet.com and artprice.com.
I think I own a valuable artwork. What should I do?
First, what not to do: do NOT clean it, or reframe it, or restore it, by yourself. If it's on paper, do not give it too much light and never let it receive direct sunlight. And resist the temptation to remove layers of paint to see if the artist painted the women naked under their clothes.
(I have recently discovered a nice page at the North Carolina Museum of Art site which discusses conservation issues related to the display, storage, and transport of fine art.)
Now, if you think you have a valuable work of art, here's what to do: