Remember that fantastic picture you drew when you were little? You were so proud of it. You just couldn’t wait to show it to your parents.
Unfortunately, they misinterpreted your work. Your parents thought it was the prettiest hat they’d ever seen. It was a little frustrating to have to explain to them that your picture was actually of a snake that had just eaten an elephant!
Don’t worry, though. Many great artists are misunderstood. And, believe us, when your parents heard your explanation about your picture, that picture likely became priceless.
But what does it mean to be priceless? Everything has a price, right? If you go into a store, everything for sale has a price tag on it to let you know how much it costs.
Priceless means that an item is invaluable. Because of its rarity or quality, its value is so great that it can’t be calculated in terms of mere money.
For example, many of the greatest works of art ever created are considered priceless. Many of these works are owned by museums that share them with the world.
Although many people might pay millions of dollars to own these works, they’re considered too valuable to be owned by a private individual and taken away from a museum where they are enjoyed by the public. We call such works priceless.
Many objects have value based upon what someone is willing to pay for them. Priceless items are priceless precisely because their owners are unwilling to part with them — for any amount of money.
That’s why the works of art that you create for your parents are priceless. Of course, depending upon how good of an artist you are, people might not be willing to pay much money for your “snake eating elephant” drawing. But that’s not the point!
The point is that the things you create are incredibly valuable to those who love you…and they usually wouldn’t part with them for any amount of money. That makes your art priceless!
Not all great works of art are priceless, though. Many famous paintings have been sold for tremendous sums of money over the years.
For example, private art collector David Geffen sold two works from his collection in 2006. Woman III by Willem de Kooning is believed to have been sold for $137.5 million dollars and Jackson Pollock’s No. 5, 1948 was allegedly sold for $140 million. These sales were private transactions but, if true, they would be the two most expensive paintings ever sold.
Since many major art transactions are private in nature, there may have been other paintings sold for even more money. One of the paintings in Paul Cézanne’s The Card Players series is rumored to have sold for over $250 million in early 2011.
Many of the most valuable — and priceless — paintings housed in museums around the world were created by the “old masters.” The “old masters” were European painters of incredible skill who created their works prior to 1800. Paintings by these artists are also often called “old masters.”
“Old masters” were trained artists who were Masters of their local artists’ guilds and worked independently. Some famous “old masters” you may have heard of include da Vinci, Michelangelo, Botticelli, Raphael, El Greco, Rembrandt, Vermeer and Goya.