Asian silk paintings, discovered in tombs in 1949 during Chinese excavations in the Hunan Province, depict histories of the deceased as well as philosophical symbolism such as contrasts between light and dark, heaven and hell, and movement and stillness. The paintings, which included drawings of dragons, along with male and female figures, are dated back to 403-221BC, during the Warring States Period. The popularity of silk painting first spread to India during the early part of the first millinium and eventually became a popular form of art in Europe and the United States in the middle of the 20th century.
Educate yourself about Asian silk paintings. Purchase a book at your local book store or order one online. Your local library is another resource for art literature. Compare your artwork with other art pieces of similar age, style and condition. Many books offer price ranges and previous sale prices for artworks. “The Arts of China” written by Michael Sullivan, includes a history of silk paintings with images depicting examples from the Neolithic period to the late 20th century.
Trace the provenance of the artwork if possible. Provenance is a record of previous ownership and sales of the artwork. An impressive past sometimes brings a better price for art pieces. For instance, previous celebrity ownership may increase its value. Fine Art Registry, an online service offering provenance registration and research, offers free and paid memberships.
Hire a professional art appraiser. The appraisal is helpful for pricing the artwork should you decide to sell and also provides necessary information needed to insure the work if you choose to maintain ownership. Cost of appraisals vary in price and usually range from one to several hundred dollars.
Visit local art galleries and museums. Gallery owners and museum curators may be able to offer information about your artwork or refer you to reputable appraisers. A gallery owner may be interested in a consignment arrangement. The gallery will attempt to sell your painting at no charge and split the profits after the sale. The gallery customarily receives between 20 and 30 percent commission.
Participate in an Asian art forum online. Choose a forum or discussion thread that focuses specifically on Asian silk paintings or Chinese art. Many fellow art collectors willingly share knowledge or pass along references of reputable art dealers and appraisers. Art buyers often frequent forums too. Asian Art Forums provides an excellent starting point for networking online. The Oriental Outpost also maintains a forum featuring threads about Asian silk paintings.
Research sales at online auction sites. Look for completed auctions with listing details similar to your art, including information describing size, condition and artists signatures.