The world of antiques is a captivating realm filled with rich history, exquisite craftsmanship, and the thrill of discovery. If you’re passionate about antiques and possess a keen eye for valuable pieces, consider embarking on a fulfilling career as a freelance antiques consultant and seller. Here we share a recent story of discovery in the most unexpected of places – a French kitchen. Plus we offer up some career tips to get you started in the world of antiques
The thrill of the hunt. The sense of wonder when you find a hidden gem. The appreciation of history in your hands. These are just some of the motivations and sensations felt by antique dealers and consultants. Here we share a story of discovery and what to consider should you want to pursue a freelance career in antiques.
Louvre Acquires Masterpiece Uncovered in French Kitchen
In an extraordinary turn of events, the Louvre Museum has purchased a rare medieval panel painting that was discovered hanging above a stove in a French kitchen, according to a recent report. The artwork, titled “La Mérision du Christ” (The Mocking of Christ), is attributed to the Italian artist Cenni di Pepo, known as Cimabue (c. 1240-1302), and is considered a significant addition to the museum’s collection.
The painting was initially spotted by an auctioneer who recognised its potential value despite its unusual location. The panel was put up for auction in October 2019 and sold for a staggering €24.18 million (including buyer’s premium), surpassing its initial estimate of €4-6 million.
However, in a turn of events, The French cultural ministry had a representative at the auction with a budget of around €15m to ‘pre-empt’ the work (a practice which gives a museum or institution the right to purchase items at the price established by the bidding). However in the end the work was blocked from export in 2020 when an export licence was applied for.
The Louvre Museum this month announced its acquisition of the work. In a statement, it said the panel “joins the collections of the Department of Paintings, of which it becomes the oldest work and an essential milestone for understanding the development of Western painting”.
Laurence des Cars, president and director of the museum, said according to an Antiques Trade Gazette report: “Cimabue’s La Mérision du Christ constitutes a crucial milestone in the history of art, marking the fascinating transition from icon to painting. It will soon be presented alongside the Maestà, another masterpiece by Cimabue belonging to the Louvre collections and whose restoration is currently continuing. Thus brought together, the two paintings will be the subject of an exhibition-event in spring 2025.”
The acquisition of this remarkable artwork highlights the potential for valuable antiques to be unearthed in the most unexpected places. It also serves as a reminder of the importance of preserving and appreciating a nation’s cultural heritage and the laws around that.
Tips to consider when starting a freelance career in antiques:
- Cultivate Your Expertise
Knowledge is your most valuable asset in the antiques business. Immerse yourself in the world of antiques by devouring books, attending auctions and antique fairs, and conversing with experienced dealers and collectors. Explore various eras, styles, and types of antiques to develop a comprehensive understanding of the market.
- Establish Your Niche
The antiques market is vast and diverse. Identify a specific niche that aligns with your interests and expertise. Whether it’s vintage jewellery, antique furniture, or rare collectables, specialising in a particular area will set you apart from the competition.
- Source Your Inventory
Acquiring high-quality antiques is crucial to your success. Network with auction houses, antique dealers, and private collectors to uncover hidden gems. Attend estate sales, flea markets, and local antique shops to unearth unique pieces at bargain prices.
- Develop Your Marketing Savvy
In today’s digital age, effective marketing is essential for reaching a wider audience. Create a professional website showcasing your inventory, use social media platforms to engage potential buyers, and consider participating in online antique marketplaces.
- Build Relationships and Trust
The antiques business is built on trust and reputation. Cultivate genuine relationships with fellow dealers, collectors, and auction houses. Establish a reputation for honesty, integrity, and expertise, which will attract loyal customers.
- Embrace Technology
Technology can be a powerful tool for freelance antiques sellers. Use online auction platforms to reach a global audience, employ digital marketing strategies to promote your business, and consider offering online appraisals and consultations for added convenience.
- Stay Updated
The antiques market is constantly evolving, so ongoing education is essential. Keep abreast of emerging trends, import and export laws, new discoveries, and market fluctuations to make informed decisions and stay ahead of the curve.
- Seek Guidance
Seek mentorship from experienced antiques dealers or join professional organisations to gain valuable insights and support. Attend industry events and workshops to stay updated on the latest market trends and regulations.
- Embrace the Journey
Becoming a successful freelance antiques seller requires patience, perseverance, and a passion for the trade. Enjoy the journey of discovery, continuous learning, and the satisfaction of connecting buyers with treasured pieces.
Additional Tips for Success:
- Develop a keen eye for authenticity: Learn to identify genuine antiques from reproductions and forgeries.
- Refine your negotiating skills: Hone your ability to negotiate fair prices with both buyers and sellers.
- Master photography and presentation: Capture high-quality images of your antiques, highlighting their unique features and appeal.
- Offer exceptional customer service: Provide personalised attention to your clients, addressing their inquiries promptly and professionally.
- Stay abreast of legal and regulatory requirements: Understand and comply with all applicable laws and regulations governing the sale of antiques.
Embark on your journey into the world of antiques with enthusiasm, dedication, and a passion for uncovering hidden treasures. With the right knowledge, skills, and entrepreneurial spirit, you could establish a successful freelance career sourcing and selling antiques.