What Makes A Masterpiece?

What Makes A Masterpiece?

What makes a masterpiece? If there were such a thing as a specific formula for creating one, then all artists would do so. Instead, a true masterpiece is the visual equivalent of capturing lightning in a bottle—a vector of time, place, genius and happenstance. Though they often look back to tradition, masterpieces become what they are by depicting something that hasn’t been seen before. There are no better examples than the ten famous paintings that follow, including some of the best Picasso paintings, works from Gustav Klimt and more. Wealthy buyers in the Persian Gulf and China have set a string of records as they have snapped up some of the world’s most important artworks in recent years.

Michelangelo's The Creation of Adam

Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam (c. 1512), part of the Sistine Chapel ceiling, is considered an archetypal masterpiece of painting

There’s no doubt that many people would agree that the majority of artwork found in museums and private collections around the world are priceless. Being one of a kind, it makes it difficult to put a price on many works; however, almost on a daily basis, art is sold and bought, oftentimes bringing hefty price tags that most will never be able to afford. We take a look at some of the artworks—from Old Masters to contemporary works—that no one can deny are some of the most expensive in the world.

The fine art market is booming: Seems like every day, another auction record is set for “the highest price ever paid [fill in artist’s name here].” So what does that mean for the painting you bought to match your sofa a few years back? It may increase in worth, or it may be as salable as your kid’s pasta-filled craft project. So how do you tell? Well, as with any investment, you need to do your research and go beyond your comfort zone. The art market is fickle, and there are no guarantees of profitability, but with a little legwork and forethought you can fill your home with images that may prove worthy assets down the line. Consider these tips for choosing fine art and identifying the Michelangelo from the macaroni. The rarity of a work of art is what gives it value, so an original will always be worth more than a reproduction.

A painting by Pablo Picasso entitled Women of Algiers set a new world record for the most expensive artwork to be sold at auction after reaching over $179m. Another example, a painting by Paul Gauguin was reportedly purchased for $300m, making it the most expensive painting ever sold, at auction or in a private sale. The Picasso painting was last sold in 1997 to a seller, who put it up for auction for $31.9m. The painting has therefore appreciated over $147m in the past 18 years.

Here is a list of the top ten most expensive paintings ever sold (2017)

top ten most expensive paintings ever sold

 

Leonardo da Vinci, Salvator Mundi, c.1500, Oil on walnut

Leonardo da Vinci, Salvator Mundi, c.1500, Oil on walnut

Willem de Kooning, Interchange, 1955, Oil on canvas

Willem de Kooning, Interchange, 1955, Oil on canvas

Jackson Pollock, Number 17A, 1948, Oil on fiberboard

Jackson Pollock, Number 17A, 1948, Oil on fiberboard

Paul Cezanne, Card Players, 1892/93, Oil on canvas

Paul Cezanne, Card Players, 1892/93, Oil on canvas

Paul Gauguin, When Will You Marry?, 1892, Oil on canvas

Paul Gauguin, When Will You Marry?, 1892, Oil on canvas

Mark Rothko, No. 6 (Violet, Green and Red), 1951, Oil on canvas

Mark Rothko, No. 6 (Violet, Green, and Red), 1951, Oil on canvas

Rembrandt, Pendant portraits of Maerten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit, 1634, Oil on canvas

Rembrandt, Pendant portraits of Maerten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit, 1634, Oil on canvas

Pablo Picasso, Les Femmes d'Alger (English: The Women of Algiers), 1955, Oil on canvas

Pablo Picasso, Les Femmes d’Alger (English: The Women of Algiers), 1955, Oil on canvas

Amedeo Modigliani, Nu couché (also known in English as Red Nude), 1917, Oil on canvas

Amedeo Modigliani, Nu couché (also known in English as Red Nude), 1917, Oil on canvas

Roy Lichtenstein, Masteripiece, 1962

Roy Lichtenstein, Masterpiece, 1962

Most of these artists had no idea their works would appreciate these values or become as important in the art world because, until the artist’s death, they were producing the art. Once it became known that there would be no more work produced by the artist, the body of work they created during their life became increasingly more valuable over time. Unlike the known artists and their valuable works of art, the art of the hand-woven Oriental rug comes from the hands many different artistan, hand spinning wool, master dayers, master designers, master weavers and looms of many unknown artists who will remain anonymous while their works of art will live on.

Photo by: Hasan Fathian

Photo by: Hasan Fathian

With Oriental rugs, it is the entire art itself that is dying. There will be no more artists left to create these rare works of hand-made art. Prices are already beginning to soar as more and more investors become aware of the rarity of these rugs and the eventual death of this art form. When hand-woven rugs cease to be produced, the existing body of work will soar in value beyond everyone’s expectations.

Smart investors can see their window of opportunity is closing fast and that Oriental rugs produced by past and current artists will not be replaced. This once unknown art is now becoming known, especially throughout the investment community. In painting, there was one artist, one canvas, and paint. With Oriental rugs, it takes the hands of many artists to create a masterpiece. It takes artists to make the wool and dye as well. The supply will continue to diminish and the price of authentic Oriental rugs will continue to climb. It is time to move your money if you are an investor that is interested in protecting wealth and less risky investments. The appreciation in these works of art is assured to increase in value and importance because all of these Artisans are dying off and sadly they are not being replaced. Here are some recent examples of prices from the famous auctioneers at Sotheby’s and Christie’s for some of these hand-woven works of art.

 

For a Kerman rug, from the Safavid period, known as Sickle-leaf sold recently at Sotheby’s auction for over $2m

For a Kerman rug, from the Safavid period, known as Sickle-leaf sold recently at Sotheby’s auction for over $2m

Another example of a silk Persian Kerman rug from the Safavid period sold at Christie’s auction for $4. 45m and it was created by anonymous artists

Another example of a silk Persian Kerman rug from the Safavid period sold at Christie’s auction for $4. 45m and it was created by anonymous artists

Some Persian rugs are doubling in value in a just a single year. Recently a 17th century Persian Laver Kirman rug received a record bid of $9.59m at auction doubling the previous record. Antique rugs are appreciating at astronomical values and in the last few years, even some of the newer, finer rugs have tripled and quadrupled in value. With the decline in production and the expansion of the global economy, prices for these hand-woven pieces of art by anonymous artisans will continue to astonish the world. There is no better place to invest money now than in the appreciating world of authentic Oriental rugs. A tremendous return on investment is literally assured for these hand-woven masterpieces.

The world’s most expensive rug is this silk Isfahan rug measuring 7 ft. 7 in. x 5 ft. 7 in. which was sold by Christie’s in 2008 for a staggering price tag of US $4,450,000. There were several factors that contributed to this record price. Some of these factors are exceptionally high knot density, use of numerous colors, outstanding craftsmanship and the use of pure silk. Additionally, despite its age the rug was in very good condition with negligible end loss at the time of the sale. A significant fact about the sale price is that this price is not just the highest ever paid for a rug at an auction but also the highest amongst private rug sales.

 

With a sale price of US $182,500, the honor of the second most expensive rug goes to a Ziegler Mahal rug from central Persia. Factors that contributed to the high price of this rug were its excellent condition, its large print scale and its attractive palette of colors including light blue and terracotta. The rug measures approximately 18’ 6” x 10’ 9”.

The third spot on the list of most expensive rugs goes to another Ziegler Mahal rug with a sale price of US $170,500. Measuring roughly 416 square feet, this rug’s striking factors are generous size and attractive, soft colored color tones, which is quite unique in Mahal rugs.

 

The fourth most expensive rug is this brightly colored, compact Ushak rug measuring 4’10” x 3’11”. Steeped in symbolism, this design-rich rug sold for US$158,500.

The fourth most expensive rug is this brightly colored, compact Ushak rug measuring 4’10” x 3’11”. Steeped in symbolism, this design-rich rug sold for US$158,500.

5th most expensive rug in the world

This Isfahan rug measuring 16’1” x 6’ 11” was ranked as the 5th most expensive rug in the world with a sale price of US $116,500 ranked it as the 5th most expensive rug in the world. The factors that helped increase the value of the rug are its pleasing color combinations, intricate pattern design,and high decorative value.

 

Ziegler Mahal rug

The fact that yet another Ziegler Mahal rug made it into the top 10 list of most expensive rugs is a testimony to the high quality and the value of these types of rugs. Measuring 20’ 6” x 17’ and featuring deep royal colors and an elaborately patterned floral border, this Ziegler Mahal rug fetched US $98,500 at a Sotheby’s auction.

 Mohtashem Kashan carpet from central Persia is the 7th most expensive rug in the world

This Mohtashem Kashan carpet from central Persia is the 7th most expensive rug in the world. It was sold by Sotheby’s for $92,500. The excellent craftsmanship and execution coupled with its intricate designing and beautifully combined colors give this rug its highly decorative value.

Portuguese Armorial rug

With a sale price of US$80,500, this Portuguese Armorial rug earned the 8th position on the list of most expensive rugs. The rug measures 19’5” x 14’10” and features a single, central square medallion with an intricate border comprised of repeated oscillating patterns.

Fereghan rug

At 9th rank is this Fereghan rug with a price tag of US $74,500. Measuring 18’9” x 13’8”, this rug is representative of a typical Fereghan Sarouk design, which is highly favored by the majority of collectors.

Tabriz rug

Rounding off the top ten list is this Tabriz rug, which was sold by Sotheby’s for US $68,500. Originating from northwest Persia, this rug is a great example of traditional Mahi field patterns and colors. The rug measures 26’6” x 18ft3” and has an elaborate all-over repetitive pattern. Its border features striking turtle shell design elements that are highly appreciated and add additional value to the rug.

 

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