Auction catalogues

With more than 28,000 documents, this collection is unique in the world. Essential for provenance research and valuations.  

Auction catalogues

Source of information 

An auction catalogue is a unique document, which is why you will only find them in specialised art libraries. These documents clearly represent a lot of value, and the Rubenshuis has an impressive 28,000 of them. These catalogues were printed when pieces were sold at auction. Going once, going twice, sold! When a work is sold, it can quickly disappear under the radar, especially if it has gone to a private collection. Auction catalogues are therefore a crucial source of information about the exact location of specific works at any given moment.

Journey of the artwork 

The Rubenshuis has an impressive 250 running metres of auction catalogues on old masters. They are like little time machines, taking you back to the bustling art market. They show how popular Flemish art was back then. And still is today. Because the collection also includes recent catalogues of current auctions from New York, Copenhagen, Paris, Berlin, Brussels and Zurich. So you can keep a close eye on the journey an artwork has made - from artist to buyer.

Frits Lugt compiled the oldest catalogues in his Répertoire des Catalogues de Ventes Publiques. These are rare documents, as the thin catalogues were often thrown in the bin after an auction.   

Public consultation

Did a Rubens ever go under the hammer at Sotheby's in London? You can consult all catalogues in the library via the online library catalogue. You can search by title, author or edition, but also by auction house, auction location or the collector of a completely sold private collection. You can find the current collection here.   

The databases ASCO and Artprice are part of the research tools made available by the Rubenshuis, a vital addition to the collection on paper.