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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Call for 2016 Board Nominations

We are currently accepting applications from members wishing to be considered for the three vacancies on the 2016 ISA Board of Directors.

Our Board consistently aims to find enhanced opportunities for the membership, such as quality educational programming and the overall promotion of the personal property appraisal industry, so that each individual member can benefit professionally and personally from their connection to ISA. A position as Board member comes with responsibility, fantastic leadership opportunities, and direct input into important priorities for the organization.

What does serving the Board entail? 
While the position is a crucial one, the Board meets just four times per year, with two of the sessions in teleconference. Two meetings are in person - one held at the annual conference and the other in the headquarters office in Chicago. Board positions are three-year terms.

Please note: All candidates must currently hold the designation of either ISA AM or ISA CAPP to be considered.

Interested in applying? Please submit all letters of intent (along with your resume) to Jan Durr, ISA CAPP, Nominating Committee Chair, by email at Kindly include in your application how your accomplishments thus far can best serve the Board and the ISA as a whole. Jan can also be reached by phone at 704.635.7694. The deadline for submission is Friday, June 12.

We look forward to your applications!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Five Points to Consider When Choosing a Frame for a Painting

Eli Wilner
By Eli Wilner & Company, ISA Affinity Business Partner

"Frames have a lot of power to influence our appreciation and interpretation of a painting," says Eli Wilner, founder of Eli Wilner & Company, a New York-based gallery responsible for frames found in homes across the world, as well as at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the White House. But before selecting a frame, you need to make sure it's the right one.

Most essential, according to Wilner, is historical accuracy. "A frame should reflect the period of the painting," he says. "I want to imagine that I'm the artist. I've just completed the painting and gone to my favorite framer. How would the artist approach the design? That's how I make every decision, whether it's for Rembrandt or Corot or John Singer Sargent." Also important: does the style of frame complement the painting itself? "Aesthetic consideration is crucial. After I narrow it down to the type of frame an artist would use, I look at the scale, decorative elements, and color that enhance a particular artwork."

To illustrate what you should keep in mind the next time you're ready to frame, here are Wilner’s thoughts on how to pair an appropriate frame with a few examples of 19th Century European art.

Figure 1 -
"The Tambourine Girl,"
John William Godward
"I do not know a single major painter who did not spend a significant amount of time thinking about his frames. Even van Gogh, who had no money, made his own frames and painted them to match the piece inside. Godward (figure 1) saw himself as a Renaissance painter and in that style and tradition, wanted to create the same feeling of importance and religious experience that he saw in church altarpieces traveling throughout Rome and Florence. Since that was his design, that is the only way a Godward can really be appreciated. If you put his painting in a lesser, simpler frame, the work loses the true, holistic meaning that Godward meant to convey."

Figure 2 -
"Priaries Inondées Vue a Travers la Feuillee,"
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot

"Although I usually frame as if I were the artist, 10% of the time I frame as if I were the collector. I occasionally like to throw a curveball. Corot mostly used fluted, quiet 19th-century frames, but the more elaborate 18th-century approach (figure 2) is very popular and how you'll see Corot framed in many museums and private homes. The soft carving in the frame works very well with the composition."
Figure 3 -
"Marchande de Fleurs à Londres,"
Jules Bastien-Lepage

"There's no general rule when it comes to scale except that you should avoid over-framing and under-framing. Everything else depends on the aesthetics of the individual artwork. Here is a portrait of a modest flower-seller in late 19th-century London (figure 3), so I felt the frame needed to be restrained. A thinner frame would have looked too slight on the large canvas, while a thicker one would have been too grand for the subject. It's all about balance. When you put a sculpture on a pedestal, the same considerations have to be met. Ask yourself: Is the frame too wide, too delicate, too overpowering, or just right for the piece?"

Figure 4 -
"Marchand Ambulant au Caire,"
Jean-Léon Gérôme

Decorative Elements
"Because of its exotic subject matter, I chose an Orientalist frame for Gérôme’s painting (figure 4). The decorative marks, similar to what you'd see in the Middle Eastern wing at the Met or at the Alhambra Palace in Spain, puts you into the mindset that you're in the Middle East. Yes, a 19th-century French frame would technically work. But this frame changes your perception and shows the context that a frame can bring to a work of art."

Figure 5 -
"La Marchande de Fleurs - Rue de Rivoli,"
Louis Marie de Schryver
"This is a very pretty and charming picture (figure 5), so I picked a bright gold frame to echo the happiness of the scene. I wanted to turn up the dial on the beauty of the flowers and patterned fabrics by making the frame as opulent as I could without going overboard. Again, you have to let the painting speak."

Images: Courtesy of Sotheby's. Images of Frames: Courtesy of Eli Wilner & Company NYC

Friday, May 8, 2015

Register for our Asian Art Week Courses

The Appraisal of Japanese Prints
June 15-17, 2015

The “Japanese Prints” two-day class held in Naperville, Illinois introduces the periods, styles, schools, and major names of Japanese print-making from the 17th to 21st centuries. We will use the textbook “The Appraisal of Japanese Prints” and explore a variety of Japanese culture and print dealer websites. How should a beauty look? How can you differentiate heroes from villains? What are the types of perspective? Why is the foreign market important? Why Fuji? What’s with Hiroshige I, Hiroshige II, and Hiroshige III? What does a left-over leg tell you? These and many other issues will come up during class. The point of these two days is to not only equip appraisers with essential information about the history of Japanese prints but to also provide information about valuing prints. This will include a worksheet for on-site tasks and a myriad of cautions! Students are encouraged to bring a print or two (unframed) for in-class examination.

The downtown Chicago tour day, which follows the two-day class, will include a talk given especially for us at Floating World Gallery ( on a topic which arises so often in appraisals, followed by a visit to the enormous warehouse of Asian art books at Paragon Book Gallery ( Paragon not only accepts credit cards, it will also ship your purchases.

Instructor: Daphne RosenzweigClass is 2 Days with Field Trip on Third Day
PDC: 15 or 20 (With Exam)Breakfast & Lunch Included in Fee

Register Now

Foundation Course in Asian Ceramics for Appraisers
June 18-20, 2015

Presented from the critical perspective of an appraiser, this comprehensive course will focus on Chinese ceramics and to a lesser extent, the ceramics of Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia. Its goal is to provide an overview of the most significant types of ceramics and their current values. Discussion of different forms, glazes, decoration, technology, and function will be examined. Practical information, including an analysis of the current Chinese art market, fakes, and identification and valuation techniques specific to the field of Asian ceramics will also be presented.

Who is the course for?
The course is appropriate for appraisers from a variety of backgrounds and experience. Both novices and those who have some knowledge of types of Asian ceramics will benefit from the presented information. The course should be considered an introductory guide to the most important types of Asian ceramics and issues related to their identification, cataloguing and valuation.

How will the course be presented?
There will be two days of in-class instruction and a field-trip, which will feature two handling sessions, in addition to a tour of the Asian ceramics collection at a major museum in Chicago. The course will be delivered in primarily a lecture, PowerPoint-based mode. Handouts will be provided with concise information on ceramic shapes, terminology, dynastic charts, decorative symbolism, Imperial reign marks, and the most useful websites and databases for research. There will also be handouts provided of current articles regarding issues related to the appraising of Chinese works of art and the Chinese art market. Most importantly, there will be cataloguing exercises. Images of ceramics will be shown, and the class will work on describing them as they would need to in an appraisal report or auction catalogue format. Emphasis will be put on employing the most concise and correct terminology in the field of Asian ceramics. Students are welcome to prepare and submit to the instructor a list of questions they wish to have addressed in class.

What are the objectives of the course?
  • to develop the ability to identify, analyse, and compare a wide range of Asian ceramics
  • to increase familiarity with the historical development of Chinese ceramics
  • to develop an awareness of the materials and themes, as well as strategies for identifying fakes and connoisseurship
  • to develop visual skills through the examination of objects in either an auction house, museum, and/or private collection, as well as in-class
  • to understand the key issues regarding appraising Chinese ceramics and the current art market
  • to encourage preparation for continued independent research on Asian ceramic topics through Internet resources, bibliographies, and other tools
Instructor: Susan LaheyClass is 2 Days with Field Trip on Third Day
PDC: 15 or 20 (With Exam)Breakfast & Lunch Included in Fee

Register Now

Both classes will be held at Northern Illinois University in Naperville, Illinois.

Deducting materials? Is a written appraisal required or do they just submit receipts?

ISA members are invited to send in their questions on all things appraising and education to Leon Castner, ISA CAPP. Leon will share his answers on the ISA Now Blog. Please send questions to

Question: An artist is donating a work to a museum. I understand they can only deduct the cost of the materials, which in this case is over $21,000. Since this amount is over the $5,000 threshold, is a written appraisal required or do they just submit receipts?

Answer (from Karin Gross, Office of the Chief Counsel for the IRS:Yes, the artist needs to have the work appraised. The fair market value allowed would either be the cost of the materials or the value based on comparable sales – whichever is less. (Just because an artist has $21,000 in materials doesn’t mean it would sell for that much.)

Aside (Leon): The item must be appraised for fair market value using the sales comparison approach. If the comparables suggest the piece has a fair market value of only $5,000, that’s the amount – not the $21,000. Very interesting!

Trivial Pursuit III
Tidbits Taken From our Core Course Exam
These statements are ALL TRUE!
  1. A USPAP certification must be proceeded by the words identical or similar to “I certify.”
  2. An electronic signature is acceptable in an appraisal report.
  3. The present worth formula is often used in an appraisal blockage analysis.
  4. Age-life depreciation is often applied without discrimination to the property’s condition or to the property’s level of use.
  5. Appraisers are responsible for recommending to their client if authentication should be done.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Appraisal Organizations Unite in Campaign to Raise Profile of the Qualified Appraiser
As announced at Assets 2015 in Philadelphia, leadership and representatives of the three main appraisal organizations - The International Society of Appraisers, the American Society of Appraisers, and the Appraisers Association of America - have been meeting to discuss ways in which we might best work together in fellowship to protect and educate the public regarding meaningful qualification standards for appraisers.

On Monday, May 4, presidents of the three organizations released a joint statement to the media saying:

“We are proud to stand together, creating a circle of trust to protect the public by upholding the values, ethics, and credentials of each of our organizations through a demanding credentialing processes that includes training and testing of all members on valuation theory, professional methodologies, and product knowledge.”

ISA's participation in this effort has been endorsed by its Board of Directors as consistent with our mission: Advancing excellence in the personal property appraisal profession, and strategic goal of building ISA's industry standing through relationships with allied professionals.

The Appraisal Foundation estimates that approximately 80% of personal property appraisals are currently performed by individuals held to no standard of professional accountability. The intention of the "Circle of Trust" alliance is to collaborate on issues of importance to our industry and to promote public awareness and trust in our credentials.

In the press release, the three organizations strongly urge the public to verify the educational and experiential background of any appraiser prior to retaining their services and to be wary of red flags that indicate an appraiser may not be objective in conducting appraisals. These including charging for appraisals based on the appraised value of an item, or offering to purchase an item the appraiser has appraised.

ISA is proud of this ground-breaking partnership with our peer organizations, and looks forward working together to further this important initiative.   

Read the full press release.