Page last updated at 15:20 GMT, Thursday, 8 April 2010 16:20 UK

Investors seek 'traditional art' as prices rise

Traditional art is proving popular for high-end buyers as prices in the UK arts and antiques market continue to rise, a survey has found.

Oil and watercolours have performed well with works priced at more than £50,000 rising in value, surveyors say.

But the survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors found that the rise was driven by traditional, rather than contemporary, art.

More affordable art was outperforming the higher end, it said.

Prices in the first three months of the year were rising owing to a lack of supply of art, the survey found.


There were increases in prices reported in the silver and jewellery sectors, which have often been seen as havens for investments. Much of this was the result of the high scrappage values of precious metals, the survey said.

"Last quarter's improvement in the contemporary art market turned out to be the result of the Frieze art fair last October rather than a solid turnaround. However, the arts and antiques market remains a strong performer as an asset class with prices rising in nearly all categories," said Simon Rubinsohn, Rics chief economist.

He suggested that the bad weather at the start of the year had prevented some works being brought to auction. However, the weather failed to deter buyers, many of whom bid over the telephone or on the internet.

Evidence of the kind of amounts fetched for paintings at the highest end will be in evidence in May when a painting by Henri Matisse, celebrating the first Bastille Day in France after World War I, is auctioned at Sotheby's in New York.

The painting - "Bouquet for July 14, 1919" - is expected to fetch between $18m (£11.8m) and $25m (£16.5m).

The colourful painting, which measures 116cm by 89cm and depicts a bouquet of flowers on a table, is being exhibited in Hong Kong and London before being auctioned in New York.

The record for a Matisse was set in Paris in February 2009, for his 1911 piece "Cuckoos on a Blue and Pink Carpet", which fetched $45.2m (£29.7m)

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