The Impact of Color Palettes on the Prices of Paintings

17 Pages Posted: 4 Jan 2020

See all articles by Elena Stepanova

Elena Stepanova

Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna di Pisa

Date Written: July 9, 2015


We emphasize that color composition is an important characteristic of a painting. It impacts the auction price of a painting but it has never been considered in previous studies on art markets. By using Picasso's paintings, we demonstrate the method to analyze color compositions. In the case of Picasso's paintings sold at Chrisite's and Sotheby's auctions between 1998 and 2014 in New York, our econometric analysis shows that [controlling for all conventional painting and sale characteristics] some colors are associated with high prices. We also find that contrastive paintings (defined as works with colors that are distant from each other in the RGB color space) get high prices. We also analyse the works of Color Field Abstract Expressionists and find that, in the case of this school, the more distant the work's color composition is from the black/gray spectrum, the higher work's market price.

Keywords: art markets, hedonic pricing, Picasso, Rothko, visual data, color, color quantizing

JEL Classification: Z11, C810

Suggested Citation

Stepanova, Elena, The Impact of Color Palettes on the Prices of Paintings (July 9, 2015). Available at SSRN: or

Elena Stepanova (Contact Author)

Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna di Pisa ( email )

Biblioteca Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna
Piazza Martiri della Liberta, n. 33
Pisa, 56127

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