Saturday, December 13, 2008

Becoming cultured, part 2.5.

Okay, this is the last part of the book that I want to share. It's also from Chapter 4 of Discover Your Inner Economist by Tyler Cowen. This part isn't a list of ways to become cultured, though, it's just an interesting list of things that make paintings more valuable. Which sounds boring now that I've typed it, but I actually thought it was interesting.

"For better or worse, most people prefer art that makes them happy, or that they think will make them more relaxed. Look at market prices. Paintings with light colors sell better than paintings with dark colors. Happy portrait subjects sell better than widows. Horizontal pictures are easier to hang over fireplaces and sofas. Here are a few other market regularities:

1. Landscapes can as much as triple in value when there are horses or figures in the foreground. Evidence of industry usually lowers a picture’s value.
2. A still life with flowers is worth more than one with fruit. Roses stand at the top of the flower hierarchy. Chrysanthemums and lupines (seen as working class) stand at the bottom.
3. There is a price hierarchy for animals. Purebred dogs help a picture more than mongrels do. Spaniels are worth more than collies. Racehorses are worth more than cart-horses. When it comes to game birds, the following rule of thumb holds: the more expensive it is to shoot the bird, the more it adds to the value of a painting. A grouse is worth more than a mallard, and the painter should show the animal from the front, not the back.
4. Water adds value to a picture, but only if it is calm. Shipwrecks are a no-no.
5. Round and oval works are extremely unpopular with buyers.
6. An eighteenth-century Francois Boucher nude sketch of a woman can be worth ten times more than a comparable sketch of a man."

Hm. Neat.

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