How To Build Antique Collections: Choosing a Star
A ntique and art collections are as individual as the people who own them. They reflect the owner’s personality, interests, tastes, experiences, life-themes, and of course budget. But, as much as their owners are unique, collections, like all visual endevors follow specific design rules.
One such “rule” for building the perfect antique collection is “not every item can be the star.” The world is made up both foreground and background players—they need to co-exist. And like life, if you have too many stars in a room the air can get sucked right out of the place creating friction and disharmony—all of them competing for attention. We consider the background players “space” for the stars to cast their shine.
Stars don’t necessarily need to be large pieces in your collection. They could be of supreme quality, be unique in theme, or stand apart in any number of qualities. We recommend selecting a piece that you can interact with on a regular basis. Do you know of anyone who doesn’t want to be around a star and have them all to their self?
Choosing, for example, a quality small piece like this intimate William Blake Richmond [1809-1896] drawing would be the perfect star for starting any collection. Buying small pieces draws the viewer close creating a corporal connection as well as allows you to “splurge responsibly.”
A star should always be “just out of reach.” If you select a piece that costs too little time or money to acquire then it will not be as special to you. We recommend selecting your stars slowly over time and planning to spend more than you would on the background players. That threshold various for each person depending on budget but a good rule of thumb to purchase a star is $5,000 – $10,000; the amount that is considered by most major auction houses to be “starting collector” price range. Most working people interested in collecting could only afford 1-2 times per year for such an expenditure—which is why thoughtful selection is important.
We suggest a piece with a story and history behind it. You are not just buying “things” but moments in time and stories that will enrich your life.
Let’s go back to the drawing we referenced to by the English painter and decorator, William Blake Richmond [1809-1896]. Richmond was born in London and his father, George Richmond, R.A. [1809-1896], was a successful miniature painter and a distinguished artist, who painted the portraits of the most eminent people of his day. Such a legacy might appeal to you as a potential star in your own collection.
Richmond formally studied art and then taught at the Royal Academies. He exhibited at Grosvenor Gallery (1885), taught at Oxford (1878) and was elected to the Royal Academy (1888). This makes him what is referred in the art world to a “well listed artist.” “Well listed artists” make good stars when beginning to build the perfect antique and art collection. “Well listed artists” are artists that have a long or remarkable career; a career that would make them important in art history. “Well listed artists” hold their value and some appreciate in value, making them a safe investment.
You don’t want to select a star whose shine will dull and conversely one that burns too bright. Picking “top name” “well listed artists” can come with sticker shock. We recommend choosing “well listed artists” that are within the circle of the top people, often creating work similar in theme, quality, and value but may have not been the key characters. This will allow you more choice pieces with diverse themes and subject matter that will be available in the market at a reasonable price and with less competition from well funded museums and collectors.
Selecting something like a drawing vs. a finished oil painting will also allow you to be able to own a quality work at a lower price. We suggest drawings to be a good medium especially for the starting collectors.
Stars usually have agents, those people who know the celebrity and can gain access to them as well as negotiate the price. Agents can be helpful during the collection building process as well. From Here To Antiquity offers expert advice on building the perfect art collection or antique collection. With more than 40 years of experience they can help you find the best “stars” at a budget you set. Call them today to help you begin: Tel: (203) 271-7977.
To learn the entire story about the Richmond drawing click below.