Auction catalogues

Auction catalogues are essential to provenance research, determining the value of artworks, and building up information about works in private collections. At 30,000 items, the Rubenianum’s collection is one of the largest in Belgium.

Sources for provenance research

Monographs, series, journals and copies are all types of publications that are traditionally collected, preserved and made accessible by libraries. As an art library, the Rubenianum adds another type of publication to this list: the auction catalogue. These catalogues are printed whenever an auction is held, and they contain information that is essential to provenance research. After auction, artworks frequently vanish into private collections. For these works, to which it is difficult to gain access, auction catalogues are a crucial source of information.


The collection

The Rubenianum possesses more than 300 linear meters of auction catalogues. These 30,000 items tell the story of the art market and testify to the enduring interest in Flemish art. The Rubenianum receives catalogues of recent auctions from New York, Copenhagen, Paris, Berlin, Brussels, Zürich and elsewhere. The collection is also frequently expanded by the addition of donations and bequests of older – frequently rare – catalogues. 


Documentation on works of art

All auction catalogues received by the Rubenianum are studied systematically. The information they contain on artworks by Flemish masters is then incorporated into the online documentation on works of art


Consulting this source

The entire collection can be consulted in the reading room. As things stand, some titles have not yet been included separately in the library catalogue. This means that it is not always clear whether or not a particular catalogue is available. In such cases, the reading room staff will be pleased to provide assistance. In 2015 the Rubenianum launched a project to register all the catalogues in the library catalogue.