Treasures: Alvar Lithograph is an Attractive Original

Dear Helaine and Joe:

I am interested in finding out how much this might be worth. It is an original lithograph by Alvar.

Thank you,


Dear M.C.:

Before we address this specific inquiry, we want to make an important point (or perhaps two). All too often people who want us to value a personal possession do not provide us with important information that is readily available to them.

The first and perhaps most important piece of information that is commonly omitted is size. This is a critical piece of data, and the lack thereof often means we cannot offer any kind of opinion on value. In this case, we have no idea what the size of this lithograph might be, and this vital piece of information would help us determine if this piece is as it should be.

In this case, it would have also been helpful to have known the title of this work. We are fairly sure M.C. has the information because she included an unreadable photo of a printout that probably came pasted to the dust cover on the back of the picture. This almost surely included the title, and even though we searched through hundreds of Alvar images, we did not discover this particular designation.

Sunol Alvar (or Alvar Sunol depending on the source consulted) Munoz-Ramos was born in 1935 in Montfat, Spain, a Catalan fishing village on the outskirts of Barcelona. He was something of a child prodigy and began painting at the age of 12.

He was selected to attend the Escuela Superior de Bellas Artes de San Jorge in Barcelona, and at 18 entered and won the Young Painter’s Prize sponsored by the city of Barcelona. That picture is now part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in Barcelona. Shortly thereafter, he began doing one-man shows, and in 1959 he went to Paris where he met Juan Fuentes, director of the prestigious Galerie Drouant.

Alvar’s first grouping of paintings exhibited at Gallery Drouant sold out in the first week and he joined the School of Paris, a grouping of top young artists working in the French capital. In 1970, Alvar and his wife, Rosella, went back to Spain to raise their children.

The piece in today’s question is a lithograph, which means it is a multiple print made using greasy crayons, colored ink and water. This particular example is number 229 out of an edition of 275, and it appears to have been signed in pencil by the artist.

Although the number 275 may not seem like a large edition, historically, collectors have preferred the images they acquire to be from groupings that are few in number (often less than 25). Some of Alvar’s lithograph editions are indeed smaller and the fact that this is imprint 229 is a bit high for some enthusiasts who like their prints earlier in the editions because the quality tends to be a bit better in some cases.

There are thousands of Alvar prints on the current market, but many of them have not found a buyer when an attempt was made to sell them at auction. Still, this is a very attractive example and it should retail in the range of $650 to $1,000.

This article was originally posted on the Santa Maria Times.