In determining the value of a painting, a number of factors must be considered, including the artist, provenance, the quality of work, period (date), and condition. In many instances we value paintings whose style and date of creation match those of well known artists though they lack signatures. School or Genre paintings are high quality works created in the same style of an artist but aren’t directly connected to them by signature or provenance. For example, many drawings in the market which cannot be attributed to Rembrandt yet have all the physical attributes of a Rembrandt are sold as “school of Rembrandt”. While an unsigned painting by a particular artist would have less value than a signed example by that very same artist, unsigned genre paintings do not command the highest prices in the marketplace.
As appraisers, we cannot be authenticators; our role is to witness, identify, and value. At times, to value a property we rely on the “Principle of Identification” if not enough information is readily available. The Principle of Identification, defined by the American Society of Appraisers, states that “a genuine article has certain identifying characteristics, traits or marks. If the identifying characteristics of a genuine article match the same characteristics as the subject property, the subject property is assumed to be genuine (The Appraisal of Personal Property, 1994, pg 14).”