The Impulse for the Pursuit of Art and Antiques

Most of time, it is a delight to talk with art and antique dealers, who take quick note of where your eyes land and if receiving a positive comment, their eyes light up like fire.

Passion is always a necessity for the success of any career. For art and antiques dealers, it is no doubt that one of the driven forces would be the passion for finding unnoticed value. Searching treasures in numerous antique fairs and malls is no easier than finding a needle in a hay stack, yet almost every dealer will tell you such a story, even though it may have happened 20 years ago or the great treasure still sits in the garage waiting for the right buyer.

Unfortunately, that is not enough. What a miserable life it is if one does not enjoy or love the art or antique that he or she deals in.

One of the antique dealers that I know told me that the market for empire furniture is so stale that he totally got rid of it. To make his efforts honorable, he told me he once ripped off all the mahogany veneer and painted a mahogany sideboard white to sell it. I was stunned, even though I was kind of prepared for this kind of eccentricity from the exotic and unusual merchandise in his booth.

Art and antiques follow trends. Most of the trends can be explained within social and economic contexts, yet some happens unexpected. The market bubble for Impressionism, and contemporary art have not seen signs of a downturn, partly due to blazing desires of some deep pocketed collectors like Paul Allen; Empire furniture, on the other hand, whose grandeur style sometimes overwhelms modern sensibilities, is not enjoying high demand.

Yet just like stock market, it will fluctuate, although the change in some styles or periods may take a long time. Destroying the veneer may bring a handsome sum of money in a short term, but could really hurt business when the shimmering dark red mahogany begins to reclaim its proud wall in the dining room.

It has been well said: buy the works that you like, not the works that you think may be profitable. After all, it is the beauty where the hearts is.

About Hui

Wang Hui lived from 1632 – 1717 and followed in the footprints of his great grandfathers, grandfather, father and uncles and learned painting at a very early age. He was later taught by two contemporary masters, Zhang Ke and Wang Shimin, who taught him to work in the tradition of copying famous Chinese paintings. This is most likely the reason why critics claim that his work is conservative and reflects the Yuan and Song traditions. One critic claimed that “his landscape paintings reflect his nostalgic attachment to classical Chinese aesthetics. Along with the other Wangs, Wang Hui helped to perpetuate the tradition of copying the ancient masters rather than creating original work.

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