Amazon Art Gets Mixed Reviews


A day after its launch, Amazon Art has come in for satirical treatment by a host of reviewers, who rate some of the high-ticket items from the service’s various retailers. Some of the unique artworks have garnered numerous comments, as though they’d already been bought many times over. 

The priciest work on offer is Norman Rockwell’s Willie Gillis: Package from Home (1941), an oil painting available for $4.85 million from New Orleans’s M.S. Rau Antiques (condition: collectible very good). Made as a cover for the Saturday Evening Post, the canvas shows a fictional army private during World War II, holding a care package at which a half-dozen uniformed men hungrily leer.

It has four reviews already, and has earned four stars. In his review, “Kyle” writes, “Works Well for High Traffic Areas: Installed one of these on top of my urinal, and besides the creepy looks on their faces when I pee, its (sic) been worth the purchase. I give it 4 stars. Minus one star for looking old.”

Customer “M. Kim” professes to be satisfied with his purchase of Fragment de Nymphéas, a ca. 1915 canvas by Claude Monet. The painting is available from Heather James Fine Art (Palm Desert, Calif., and Jackson, Wy.) for $2.5 million.

“What really sold me was the ‘in room’ picture on this site, where it’s next to a chair and side table,” Kim writes. “I couldn’t quite picture it in my house, but after that imagery it was a no brainer.”

Customer reviews of the various kinds of items the retailer offers—from appliances and apps to video games and watches—have long been a popular characteristic of The new art section of the site, meanwhile, offers customary features like one-click ordering and Amazon Prime; Kim’s review also mines the cognitive dissonance that results from seeing these mass-market features alongside unique works of art.

“The best part is that since I’m a prime member, I saved about 20 bucks on shipping,” Kim writes. “I also purchased with my Amazon Visa rewards card (3% cash back on all Amazon purchases), so I got 75,000.00 back in rewards. Thinking about getting a BMW M3 or perhaps go to college with my cash back.”

The Monet has garnered just 2½ stars over 12 reviews.

Rau Antiques is also offering L’Enfant a la Tasse, portrait de Jean Monet, an 1868 canvas by Monet, showing his young son seated at a table with a cup. It “usually ships within 4 to 5 days.” Over 60 reviews, it has earned 2.8 out of five stars.

“Stephen M. Walls” was particularly displeased. “For as much as I paid I’m a little upset that this isn’t a new painting. You can see OBVIOUS cracks and I’m worried that the artwork has had several owners before me.” He gave just one star.

“Twistysnacks,” who also gave one star, complains, “BUYER BEWARE: THIS ITEM IS IN FRENCH.”