How to evaluate a sculpture

Do you own a sculpture and wish to sell it? The first step to be able to sell a sculpture is the valuation. To evaluate a sculpture in the correct way it is necessary to take into consideration various elements and put them in relation to the current art market. These aspects must obviously be analysed by an expert art dealer or by a consultant, so to have a more precise and secure valuation. But let’s have a look together at which are the key-elements in evaluating an antique or modern sculpture.

How much is my sculpture worth?

The author

The first thing to consider in evaluating a sculpture is the attribution to an author or a school. If the sculpture is signed by an important sculptor, it obviously will have a major value in comparison with an anonymous sculpture. Antique sculptures though were almost never signed, such as for antique paintings, and to attribute them to an author or to a school it is thus necessary to carry out some research and analyses. However, it is not always possible to hypothesise an attribution.

Lorenzo Bartolini (Savignano di Prato, 1777 – Florence, 1850)
Teresina Balbi Senárega as a praying angel (Prie Dieu)
1847-49, marble bust, cm 66x41x30

State of preservation

The preservation state influences a lot the estimation of a sculpture: a well-preserved sculpture will surely have a higher value in comparison with a sculpture kept in a bad state of preservation. In evaluating the state of preservation of a sculpture, breaks, missing pieces, scratches, material degradation are examined.  

The quality and the aesthetics

In evaluating a sculpture, it is obviously fundamental to analyse the quality of production and the aesthetics of the work. This aspect is more complex inasmuch there are no true standards to rely on, but we must trust in the sensitivity of the person that evaluates our object. The quality of the production can also be based on the used materials, the techniques and the state of preservation.  

The provenance and the historical-artistic importance

The provenance concerns the history of the previous owners of a sculpture. An important provenance, such as the ownership or the commission of a work of art by a noble and historic family, enhance the value of a sculpture. The display of the object to renowned exhibitions, the publication on catalogues, the representation of a famous character or of a historical scene and the artistic importance are elements that influence in a positive way the valuation of a sculpture both antique and modern.

Material and dimensions

Other aspects that can affect the valuation of a sculpture are the material and the dimension. The sculptures can be in marble, stone, bronze, wood, terracotta, silver or gypsum. The sculptures in gypsum normally have a minor value in comparison with those in marble, since in the past, gypsum was also used to make the cast or the draft of the final sculpture. As for bronze sculptures instead, we could have different values, since in the 20th centuries multiples were made: the higher the number of multiples of a sculpture, the smaller his value will be. The dimensions can influence the value in the case of monumental sculptures and are thus very important.  

The epoch

The epoch of a sculpture can affect the valuation when the work results to be anonymous and not attributable to any author. In this case, an antique sculpture, of the 16th, the 17th and the 18th century, will have a higher value in comparison with an anonymous sculpture of the 19th and 20th centuries. In the case of known authors, instead, it is not said that an antique sculpture has a higher value than a modern one: in this case, it is necessary to refer to the results of the market of the authors under examination.

The art market

All the elements previously cited must be put in relation to the current art market. The taste of the collectors and the fashion in the furniture varies through time and this can obviously influence the values of the sculptures both antique and modern.

Evaluating a sculpture: who to turn to

In order to choose the most adapted figure to turn for the valuation of a sculpture, it is necessary to understand which is the scope of the valuation you request. If you need an estimation of the sculpture you own for the insurance of for inheritance divisions, it is necessary to carry out an appraisal, only valid if drafted by a consultant recognised by the tribunal. To find the best consultant it is enough to consult the board of the tribunal of the city which is the closest to you. Instead, in order to have a selling valuation it is better to turn to an art dealer expert in sculptures. A serious antique dealer could also be a consultant of the board of the tribunal and surely has many years of experience in the field, being able to advice and guide you in the selling process too. A professional will be able to give you a correct valuation, exhaustive and qualified with the maximum availability.

If you wish to have an appraisal or a free valuation aimed at selling one or more sculptures that you own, you can rely on Antichità Giglio. Lino Giglio is an art dealer with many years of experience, an expert in antique and modern sculptures and he is enrolled in the Board of Consultants and Experts of the Tribunal of Milan. In order to have further information, visit our website or contact us at the following numbers 335 63.79.151 – 02 or via e-mail at Our team of experts will be able to give you advice with the greatest professionality, discretion and availability.

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