Auction catalogues

Auction catalogues are essential to provenance research, determining the value of artworks, and building up information about works in private collections. At 28,000 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 on paper

The Rubenianum possesses more than 300 linear meters of auction catalogues. These 28,000 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. All titles are included separately in the library catalogue.  You can search on titles and auction details, such as sale dates and auctioneer. The collection can be consulted in the reading room.


The digital collection

Two databases enrich the collection on paper:

  • The Art Sales Catalogues Online (ASCO) is based on the Répertoire des Catalogues de Ventes Publiques assembled by Frits Lugt, and gives access to over 33.000 digital copies of auction catalogues published between 1600 and 1900.
  • ArtPrice on the other hand holds information on more recently auctioned works and the contemporary art market in general.

Rubenianum is the only Flemish library that offers access to these databases. Unfortunately we are not allowed by the publishers to offer remote access, but you are very welcome to consult these sources in our reading room.