New research resource for art history scholars

British Art Auction Sales, 16801780 (Phase II)

Information from British art auction sales catalogues covering the period between 1680 and 1780, generated by the National Gallery’s collaborative project with the Getty Research Institute, California, is now live and searchable on the Getty Provenance Index.

The research collaboration, which started in August 2014, has brought to light new information about the story of the British auction market from its beginnings in the 17th century. The project collated data from 137,780 records from 1,085 catalogues for art sales which took place between 1682 and 1779. The new material has been added to information already gathered in an earlier collaboration between the same partners (Phase I), when 104,811 records from 1,230 catalogues were transcribed and indexed from British art sales from the period 1780 to 1800.

The project drew on work by Dr Richard Stephens and the University of York’s The Art World in Britain 1660 to 1735 online project. Other institutions that assisted in the provision of rare, annotated catalogues, include the British Museum, the British Library, the Courtauld Institute, the Barber Institute, the University of Glasgow Library, the Bibliothèque nationale de France, and the State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg.

The new data has been combined with the material already in the Getty Provenance Index’s databases, covering the history of other national auction markets including France. The information generated by the National Gallery’s two-phase collaboration with the Getty Research Institute provides a virtually complete run of British art auction records from the 1680s to the 1830s.

March 2017