A Handbook of Cultural Economics, Second Edition
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A Handbook of Cultural Economics, Second Edition

Edited by Ruth Towse

The second edition of this widely acclaimed and extensively cited collection of original contributions by specialist authors reflects changes in the field of cultural economics over the last eight years. Thoroughly revised chapters alongside new topics and contributors bring the Handbook up to date, taking into account new research, literature and the impact of new technologies in the creative industries.
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Chapter 5: Art Prices

Dominuque Sagot-Duvauroux


Dominique Sagot-Duvauroux One can characterize a commodity by its physical properties, the date at which it will be available, and the location at which it will be available. This definition underlines the three types of variables to be taken into account in understanding the prices of the works of art. In the first instance, the price of a work of art depends on its physical properties: size, materials used, date of creation, and of course the name of the creator. However, the same painting or print will have different prices depending on the date and place of sale. Prices depend on the physical properties of the works of art A work of art can be described by a set of properties that include the support, the subject matter and the signature. By support, we mean the size and the raw materials used (canvas, paper, oil, water colour, pastels, pencil, pigments and so on). The subjects depicted are mainly historical scenes, portraits, still lifes, landscapes, abstracts and the like. The artist’s signature to the work acts as a trademark. The relevant properties change over time The history of art shows that the properties relevant to determining the price of a painting change over time (Moureau and Sagot-Duvauroux, 2010). For example, during the Italian quattrocento, the price on the art market was determined mainly by the support. The painter’s greatest asset was his ability. The price was usually fixed before the painting was begun and depended on the cost of production. The...

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