Where to Sell Or Consign Your High Valued Paintings


Among the myriad forms of artistic expression, paintings hold a special place, offering a window into the artists soul through the canvas. This traditional medium serves as a powerful tool for storytelling and abstract expression alike, utilizing a diverse palette of materials—from oil and watercolor to acrylic and ink—to bring visions to life through strokes, shades, and textures. Each painting, with its unique blend of color, technique, and inspiration, tells a tale or captures a moment, making it a coveted piece for collectors.

Paintings, with their intrinsic beauty and potential rarity, span a wide spectrum of value, attracting a diverse array of collectors, from casual enthusiasts to serious investors. The decision to share, sell, or consign a painting is influenced by its desirability and the story it holds, presenting artists and owners with various avenues to showcase their cherished works to appreciative audiences. This guide delves into the optimal platforms and strategies for selling or consigning high-valued paintings, offering insights into navigating the art market’s complexities to find the right home for your prized possessions.

What Does It Mean to Consign a Painting?

Man discussing a painting with a woman

Consigning a painting is a process where the owner (consignor) entrusts their artwork to a third party (consignee) for the purpose of selling it. This arrangement is particularly common in the art world, where artists, collectors, or heirs may choose to consign paintings to galleries, auction houses, or online platforms. The consignee then takes on the responsibility of finding a buyer for the painting in exchange for a commission or fee upon sale. Here’s a deeper look into what consigning a painting involves and its implications for both consignor and consignee.

The Consignment Process

  1. Agreement: The consignment process begins with an agreement between the consignor and the consignee. This agreement outlines the terms of the consignment, including the duration of the consignment period, the selling price or range, the commission rate, and any other fees or conditions.
  2. Pricing: Setting the right price is crucial in consigning a painting. The consignee typically assists in determining a fair market value based on factors such as the artists reputation, the artwork’s provenance, condition, and current market trends.
  3. Marketing and Sales: The consignee is responsible for marketing the painting to potential buyers. This might involve displaying the artwork in a gallery, listing it in an auction catalog, or showcasing it on an online platform. The consignee uses their resources and network to promote the painting and negotiate sales on behalf of the consignor.
  4. Transaction: Once a buyer is found, the consignee handles the sale transaction. This includes collecting payment, transferring ownership, and delivering the painting to the buyer. The consignor is then paid the sale proceeds minus the agreed-upon commission and any other fees.

Benefits of Consigning a Painting

For the Consignor:

  • Access to Expertise: Consignees, especially reputable galleries and auction houses, have extensive knowledge of the art market and a network of potential buyers.
  • Reduced Effort: The consignee handles the complexities of selling the artwork, including marketing, negotiations, and finalizing the sale.
  • Market Exposure: Consigning a painting can provide greater exposure to potential buyers, increasing the chances of a sale at a fair price.

For the Consignee:

  • Inventory Expansion: Consignment allows consignees to offer a wider range of artworks to their clients without the need to purchase inventory upfront.
  • Commission Revenue: Selling consigned paintings generates commission income without the financial risks associated with owning the inventory.

Considerations and Challenges

  1. Commission and Fees: The commission rates and fees can vary significantly between consignees and can affect the net proceeds from the sale. It’s important for consignors to understand these costs upfront.
  2. Control Over the Sale: Consignors may have limited control over how their painting is marketed and sold. The choice of consignee and the terms of the consignment agreement can mitigate these concerns.
  3. Timing: The consignment process can be lengthy. Finding the right buyer at the right price can take time, which may not be ideal for consignors needing a quick sale.
  4. Risk of Unsold Artwork: There is always a risk that the painting may not sell within the consignment period. The consignment agreement should address what happens in such scenarios, whether the painting is returned to the consignor or the consignment period is extended.

Consigning a painting can be a strategic choice for owners looking to sell their artwork. By understanding the process, benefits, and considerations involved, consignors can make informed decisions and potentially find success in the art market through consignment.

How and Where to Consign Your Artwork

Woman selling her painting online

Consigning your artwork, especially if it holds significant value, can be a strategic approach to finding the right audience and securing the best possible price. This process involves entrusting your art to a third party—such as a gallery, auction house, or online platform—that will sell the piece on your behalf. Understanding the nuances of consignment can help artists and collectors navigate this complex but potentially rewarding avenue. Heres a comprehensive guide on how and where to consign your artwork.

Preparing for Consignment

  • Evaluate Your Artwork: Before consigning, assess the value of your artwork. Consider factors like the artist’s reputation, the piece’s condition, and its provenance. An appraisal might be necessary to determine its market value accurately.
  • Research Potential Venues: Identify consignment venues that align with your artwork’s style, era, and value. Each venue has its specialties and audience, so choose one that matches your arts profile to increase its chances of being sold.
  • Understand the Terms: Consignment terms can vary widely. Be clear on the commission rates, consignment period, and any fees involved. A good consignment agreement should protect both the consignor and consignee’s interests.

Where to Consign Your Artwork

  • Art Galleries: Galleries are ideal for artists with a coherent body of work or high-value pieces. They offer a curated environment and cater to a clientele specifically interested in art. Choose a gallery with a strong track record in your art’s genre or style.
  • Auction Houses: Major auction houses like Sotheby’s or Christie’s can be excellent venues for high-valued and rare pieces. They reach a global audience of serious collectors and can achieve high sale prices. However, competition and fees might be higher, so weigh these factors.
  • Online Platforms: The digital age has expanded consignment opportunities. Platforms like Artsy, Saatchi Art, and 1stdibs cater to a wide range of art and collectibles. They offer extensive reach and convenience, but research their audience and fees to ensure they’re a fit for your artwork.
  • Local Art Consignment Shops: Don’t overlook local venues, especially for pieces that might appeal to a regional audience. These shops can offer personal service and lower fees, providing a community-focused approach to selling your art.

Tips for a Successful Consignment

  • Presentation Matters: Ensure your artwork is in the best possible condition. Clean and frame it appropriately. High-quality, professional photos are also crucial, especially for online consignments.
  • Be Informed: Understand the market for your type of artwork. This knowledge will help you set realistic expectations and negotiate better terms.
  • Promote Your Consignment: While the consignee will handle most of the marketing, you can amplify the effort. Share the consignment on your social media and networks to increase visibility.
  • Stay Engaged: Keep in touch with the consignee to track your artwork’s status. Ask for feedback and be open to adjusting terms if necessary to facilitate a sale.


Consigning a painting offers a practical and effective route for owners looking to sell their artwork with the assistance of experienced professionals. By entrusting their valuable pieces to reputable consignees, owners can leverage expert knowledge, gain access to broader markets, and potentially secure better deals with less personal effort involved.

While there are considerations such as commissions and the time it may take to sell, the benefits of consignment—ranging from market exposure to reduced selling hassle—often outweigh the challenges. Ultimately, understanding the consignment process can help owners navigate the art market more confidently, making it a worthwhile option for those aiming to sell their paintings.

Additional Ideas

  • Although the consignee may have insurance, it might be limited and may not cover the piece. More so, the consignment agreement might reveal that the vendor takes no responsibility for any damage to the painting. This is why it is important to use trusted consignees like Clars Auction Gallery to sell your valuable artwork.
  • Always ask about reserve prices. This is the price below, which you will not sell. Be sure to get this in writing. You can learn more about cosigning your painting here: https://www.artbusiness.com/consignart.html.
  • You may also read more about the various forms of art here.
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