Skip to main content



Provenance refers to the history of the ownership of a painting or other work of art.

Information about the ownership of a painting can come from a range of sources, including contemporary descriptions, inventories of collections, inventory numbers on the paintings themselves and auction sale catalogues.

The National Gallery investigates the provenance of all of its paintings. It pays particular attention to the whereabouts of paintings between 1933 and 1945, in light of concern that art now in public collections may have been improperly acquired during this period.

Find out more about the whereabouts of Gallery paintings, 1933–1945