Fine Art/Oil painting

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Question
I have acquired an oil painting that I believe was painted by Auguste Serrure-who was I think Belgian and lived from 1825-1903.
The oil is in a heavy gold gilt frame (approx. 31x27) and the picture (approx 23x19)
Its of a little girl blond with blue eyes with a blue feather hat and a red and gold coat white dress with pink sash underneath.  
My questions are:  
I have been able to locate a blurry picture of his signature and it looks somewhat the same-how can I tell for sure.
Do you know any of the history of Mr. Serrure?
How can I establish the market value?  It was left in a rental I have years ago-tenants left owing me money-so I would like to sell it but don't know where to even start with that process.
Thank you for your assistance.


Answer
Dear Victoria,

I hope you are doing well and thank you for your question. Auguste Serrure (1825-1903) was indeed Belgian and considered part of the Belgian School of painters. He specialized in genre scenes; particularly interior and figurative. He also did commission portraits. He was a pupil at the Academy of Antwerpen and exhibited in both Brussels and London.

My research has shown his work getting the best prices at the Belgian auction houses. These auctions represent the wholesale value of his work and tend to fall between $3000-6000. Currently there is a Serrure portrait on EBay for approximately $4500 “buy it now”.  A retail gallery has one listed for $16,500. If you put it at auction on EBay, expect a sale price of below $1000; especially if you do not have an established seller’s history.

There are several avenues for selling art on the secondary market. Expect to get a much lower price from collectors if the painting is not authenticated and without provenance. If you want to spend the money for authentication, (price for this varies), you could market the piece to galleries/auction houses that specialize in 19th Century European art. This may also be a good avenue to get authentication if the gallery is certain it is an original and can back up with documentation. They will want to pay below wholesale.

If you are not in a hurry to sell, you may try listing on one of the secondary art market websites such as Art Brokerage, (www.artbrokerage.com). They do not charge to list but take approximately 20% commission, (close to the same commission charged by major auction houses), upon the sell of an item.

I do not know where you live, but if you are located near a major auction house in NY, SF, Chicago, etc; they typically will hold free appraisals on a monthly or quarterly basis. You show up on a specified day with your painting and experts from the auction house will give you an opinion of value. If they like the piece, they may offer to carry it at their next genre appropriate auction.

You mention a gilded frame. Many people are unaware that often the frame is more valuable than the particular art that it holds. I am not a frame expert, but visit Sotheby’s (www.sothebys.com) or Christie’s (www.christies.com) website and review auction prices for period and antique frames. For example, an Italian Baroque style gilt wood frame can sell for thousands of dollars.

I have listed below three major auction houses in Belgium that have sold Serrure paintings. As a start, you may want to contact them for interest in your painting.

Belgian Auction Houses:
Campo and Campo; Belgium: http://users.skynet.be/campo/index.htm
Hôtel de Ventes Horta; Belgium: http://www.horta.be/
M. Bernaerts Auction House: http://www.auction-bernaerts.com/

Unfortunately, there are many companies selling reproduction paintings of Serrure’s online so you will need to exclude the possibility of your painting being a modern reproduction before attempting to market. Is the painting on board or canvas? If it is on canvas does the back show an aged canvas or new in appearance?

If you send me your email address, I can forward a clear copy of Serrure’s signature. If you would like for me to take a look at the painting, send clear jpeg images of the front, back, and close up of the signature to: dolly12@aol.com. I cannot authenticate the piece, but I can give you a personal opinion.

I hope this information is helpful.

Best regards,
Dolly

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Dolly D Headley

Expertise

I can assist with identification, acquisition, sell representation, and care of fine art prints and original paintings. Some of my artist specialties include Henri Toulouse Lautrec, California Artists, and the Modern Masters. I can also assist with information on getting professional appraisals and authentication.

Experience

Dolly D. Headley, owner of Headley Fine Art, LLC, has provided consultative art services to retail gallery clients in Sausalito, CA, and at www.headleyfineart.com since 1998. With over 14 years experience as a Senior Art Consultant, Gallery Director, and an extensive art research library; Ms. Headley has provided hundreds of people with her high quality personalized consultation services and solid guarantee of satisfaction. Dolly is a volunteer at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

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Member of the Association of Online Appraisers.

Publications
The Fine Art Collectors News

Education/Credentials
Bachelor of Science; Self taught with thousands of hours research and retail gallery consulting. Personalized mentorship from various experts in the industry.

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