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The UK’s Foremost Independent Fine Art Condition Reporting Service

“For the past ten years I have been using Plowden & Smith’s independent art condition reporting services when considering whether or not to purchase an item from an auction house or from a dealer. It has saved me from making costly mistakes on several occasions, and when I consider the time and money I save by not having to travel to view the work in question myself, the service is tremendously good value.”

Peter L. Collector of Chinese Works of Art – London

fine art condition report taking place in the Plowden & Smith art restoration studio

The UK’s Foremost Provider of Independent Condition Reports

Founded in 1966, Plowden & Smith is the UK’s foremost provider of independent condition reports, trusted by private collectors and investors, leading fine art consultants and curators, specialist insurers and lawyers, and international museums and institutions.


The Range and Level of Expertise that Inform our Impartial Condition Reports is Unrivalled by any other Conservation Company in the UK

All our independent condition reports are written by qualified conservators with many years’ experience in the care and conservation of the specific object or material they are examining.

Our large team includes specialists in every field of conservation and restoration including: paintings; modern and contemporary art; prints, photographs and works on paper; sculpture; furniture; ceramics; glass; stone; metal; gilded or decorated surfaces; and textiles.

Our comprehensive condition reports contain an executive summary, followed by a thorough photographic breakdown of the artwork or object accompanied by detailed notes on condition. The information is presented in a clear, easy to understand format, and written in a style that avoids unnecessary jargon.


Plowden & Smith Fine Art Condition Reports enjoy a Reputation throughout the Art World for being Authoritative and Completely Objective

Our condition reporting services are in demand not just in the UK, but throughout the world. In the past year alone, our conservators have travelled to mainland Europe, the Middle East and Asia to examine and produce condition reports on a wide range of works, including over 20 artworks by Picasso and a collection of important bronze sculptures by Giacometti.


Detailed Condition Reports at Short Notice

Recent restrictions in travel and the rise of online auctions and art fairs, has seen a surge in demand for independent condition reports, often requested at short notice by individuals contemplating bidding on or buying an object sight unseen.

We have a rapid turnaround on our condition reporting services, so no matter what your deadline, we will endeavour to deliver the information you need, when you need it.


“I thoroughly recommend a Plowden & Smith condition report to any client considering buying a work of art. The process is seamless and the reports themselves always show an outstanding attention to detail – a testament to the knowledge and expertise of their conservators.”

Louise R. Independent Fine Art Consultant – London


Today’s shrewd collector recognises the value of impartial information to make an informed decision, or to give them the edge when negotiating on price.

What is an Independent Art Condition Report and Why is it so Useful?

fine art condition reports - manufacturing marks and bruising to a marble bust

Manufacturing marks and bruising risk being labelled merely as ‘damage’ if examined by someone without the training and experience of a conservator

As the name suggests, an independent art condition report is an objective statement of the surface and structural condition of a work of art at a given moment in time.

As such, an independent condition report from a trusted, authoritative source is a crucial tool for collectors and professionals working in the arts and heritage sector.

A Plowden & Smith smARTreport Independent Art Condition Report can:

• Provide the information needed to make informed decisions prior to purchasing works of art,

• Provide the information needed to make informed decisions about display and storage,

• Identify objects at risk in their current environment and pieces in need of treatment,

• Give peace of mind when shipping,

• Give peace of mind when loaning a single work or entire collection,

• Aid preventive strategies e.g. regarding handling and storage,

• Inform treatment decisions.


When Should You Consider Getting an Independent Art Condition Report?

• When you are considering buying a work of art or negotiating purchase price,

• Before and after shipping a work of art,

• Before and after loaning a work of art,

• When putting works of art into storage, or taking them out of storage,

• When displaying or redisplaying works of art, particularly in the home where domestic conditions often pose additional risks.


What Information is Included in our Independent Art Condition Reports?

fine art condition report detail of information included

Two details of information included in a Plowden & Smith smARTreport

All our condition reports are bespoke, and only undertaken after a consultation process to establish the unique requirements of the individual client, artwork, or collection.

If requested, our condition reports can include recommendations for treatment, or recommendations for further investigation using scientific material analysis.

Information provided in a Plowden & Smith independent art condition report may include, but is not limited to:

• Object details e.g. dimensions, medium or material,

• Summary of condition e.g. overall condition of the work, including a condition grade e.g. good / very good / excellent,

• Thorough photographic breakdown of the object with dated notes on the specific condition of each component part or area,

• Display and storage requirements,

• Treatment proposal and cost of treatment (if appropriate).

Plowden & Smith uses industry-leading software from Articheck to generate our independent art condition reports. However, we are happy to work to our clients’ preferred condition report format.


Successful Negotiating, Better Investing, and Complete Peace of Mind – Why Experts give themselves the Edge with an Independent Condition Report?

Successful negotiating, better decision-making and complete peace of mind are just some of the benefits that make our independent art condition reports one of the best investments that anyone operating in the art world can make.

In contrast with a typical condition report (often called an apparent defects report) produced by an auction house or fine art shipper, which will usually be no more than a couple of paragraphs in length, and will include the following type of disclaimer:


The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation. The condition report is a statement of opinion only. For that reason, the condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot.


Plowden & Smith’s independent condition reporting services provide total clarity on the condition of a work of art, minimising the risk of costly errors when considering whether or not to add to your collection; or in instances of shipping or loaning a work of art, any possible dispute about the existence or extent of damage, and when that damage occurred.

Our independent art condition reports save you time and money upfront; and in the long term can help ensure the structural stability of an artwork or collection, therefore protecting cherished objects for future generations, or protecting a valuable investment.


Condition Reports Delivered When You Need Them – Even at Very Short Notice

We have a rapid turnaround on our condition reporting services, so no matter what your deadline, we will endeavour to deliver the information you need, when you need it.

Our condition reporting services start from just £250, and we can provide an exact quote once we receive a catalogue or object description, and details of the location of the object we are to examine.


“As Europe’s leading dealer and authority in works by Andy Warhol, we pride ourselves on the quality of the art that we offer for sale. As such, we are extremely selective in the works that we acquire, and also then how we care for these works whilst they are with us.

For us, a third-party independent condition report is one of the best ways of demonstrating to prospective buyers what sets our collection apart from works being offered by other dealers.

For galleries or dealers, an independent condition report from a trusted, impartial authority is immensely helpful when brokering a sale, particularly with buyers who seek absolute peace of mind when deciding whether to add to their collections.

The expertise of Plowden & Smith’s specialists is second to none, and the finished reports are always thorough, easy for a ‘lay’ person to understand and delivered promptly.

I find the team at Plowden & Smith friendly, helpful, and the service itself extremely efficient. Based on my own experience, I would not hesitate to recommend Plowden & Smith’s independent condition reporting services.”

Gül Coskun, Coskun Fine Art


Today’s shrewd collector recognises the value of impartial information to make an informed decision, or to give them the edge when negotiating on price.

More on Art Condition Reports

fine art condition report of a stone object in the Plowden & Smith art restoration studio

From Stone Carvings to Anish Kapoors: Condition Reporting Stories from our Specialists…

Three of our conservators give professional insights into the condition reporting process and share some of their favourite – and most surprising – condition reporting projects.