Nearly 570,000 records of artwork sales on the Austrian, German and Swiss art markets from 5,950 catalogues covering the period 1900 to 1929 have now been added to the Getty Provenance Index as part of a four-year 2013-2019 project at the Getty Research Institute in California. The original project digitised 3,200 auction catalogues from 1930-1945. Researchers of provenance and the art market now have unprecedented information on auction sales in Germany and Austria during the periods of World War I, the Weimar Republic, and the years of Nazi looting prior to and during World War II.
Through digitization and transcription, bibliographic information from more than 8,700 German sales catalogues over the entire period is now available to researchers. Over 830,000 individual auction sales records for paintings, sculptures, drawings, and miniatures have been transcribed from these catalogs, each of which is searchable in the Sales Catalogs section of the database. Each record also links to the full PDF of its corresponding catalog at the Heidelberg University Library's website.
Building on users' ability to search basic information about auction lots such as artist name, title, and seller, the database now disambiguates artist names, classifies works into broad subject categories, and provides published sale prices from primary sources such as Internationale Sammler-Zeitung, Weltkunst, and Der Kunstmarkt.
Dozens of libraries in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland were systematically searched to locate catalogs. Once found, at least one copy of each catalog published per identified sale was digitized. Optical character recognition software was then applied so that Provenance Index staff could edit, structure, and enrich the data extracted from the text, before entering it into the database.
This project is a partnership between the Getty Research Institute, the Heidelberg University Library, and the Kunstbibliothek—Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. More information about both phases of this project, Art—Auctions—Provenance: The German Art Trade as Reflected in Auction Catalogues from 1900–1929 and German Sales 1930–1945: Art Works, Art Markets, and Cultural Policy, is available on arthistoricum.net.