Catalogues Raisonnés Users' Guide

 

Introduction

Catalogues raisonnés – scholarly compilations of an artist's body of work – are critical tools for researching the provenance, attribution, and authenticity of a work of art. They are directly related to IFAR's own work in these areas, and like IFAR, they exist at the intersection of the scholarly, legal, and collecting art worlds. This section of IFAR's Website is devoted to two new resources – a database of published catalogues raisonnés and a database of catalogues in preparation. No electronic resource like this exists. The databases can be searched separately or together. They are living documents, and new information will be added regularly. Please see the section below, "Contact us with new information," for a way to help us keep our database up-to-date.



 

Scope and Definition

Catalogue Raisonné = kå-tå-"log-" rA-z&-'nA/
[Fr. literally, reasoned catalog] (Webster's)
[Fr., = carefully studied or methodical catalogue.] A descriptive catalogue arranged according to subjects, or branches of subjects; hence, generally or loosely, a classified or methodical list. (OED)

There are many definitions of a catalogue raisonné. Narrowly defined, it is a thorough, reasoned and systematic documentation of all works by an artist – the oeuvre – in a given medium (such as painting, sculpture, works on paper) known at the time when the catalogue is prepared. By definition, the author(s) or editor(s), when deciding which works to include, are also making an assessment as to whether a particular work is by the hand of a given artist – that is, authentic – and where it fits within the artist's body of work. Except in rare instances, a catalogue raisonné is not an exhibition or collection catalogue, nor is it the same as a "monograph" on an artist, although some monographs include a list of the artist's complete works. For the purpose of IFAR's databases, catalogue raisonné is narrowly defined as above, and monographs and exhibition and collection catalogues are generally not included.

Most catalogues raisonnés include a brief description of the object, with an illustration, dimensions, and medium; the date the object was created; ownership history (provenance); and, often, exhibition and bibliographic history. Some also include extensive biographical information and interpretive essays, and, where possible, we have indicated whether individual catalogue entries contain provenance, exhibition history, bibliography and comments on individual works of art. Other catalogues include only the barest details. Both types are included in the IFAR database if the publication meets the narrowdefinition above and sets itself out to be a catalogue raisonné.

In some cases, multiple catalogues raisonnés exist for a particular artist, e.g. Modigliani and Picasso. If known to us, they are all included. IFAR's database does not attempt to judge the catalogue raisonné.

IFAR's Website focuses on catalogues dealing with paintings, works on paper, sculptures, and photographs. Although we include some print catalogues – particularly for artists like Picasso, Miró, and Rembrandt, who also worked in other media – another database of catalogues on prints already exists (see www.printcouncil.org), and there was no need for us to duplicate that excellent resource.

IFAR's Website contains two databases: one for published catalogues raisonnés and one for those still in preparation. For the latter, we include information, where available, about anticipated publication dates, project scope, and contact information for authors or committee members. Please note: IFAR's database of catalogues in preparation should not be confused with a list of current "experts" on a given artist. We include projects only if works are being systematically reviewed for a new catalogue raisonné or a supplement. In some cases, however, we have included "standing committees" that are continuing to review works after the publication of a catalogue, although there is no immediate intention of publishing a supplement. Our goal in these cases is to make the existence of such standing committees public and provide contact information.

A note on electronic catalogues raisonnés: Currently, some catalogues raisonnés are being published only in electronic form, as a Website. If such a Website is already launched and searchable, it is included in our database of published catalogues under the artist's name. If it is not yet launched, it will be found in our database of catalogues in preparation.



 

How to Navigate

Searching the databases
The two databases may be searched independently or together. There are four search criteria: artist name, artist dates, artist country of birth or death (nationality), and catalogue author(s).

The artist's name may be searched either by entering the last name, or any part of the last name. The search is not case sensitive. You may also find the artist's name by browsing the alphabetical list of all the artists' names in the database and then selecting the desired one.

Artists, particularly those working before the twentieth century, are often known by several names and variant spellings. We have included many of these variations in our database, so that searching for any of the variants will find the artist. As an example, Jacques Lipchitz can be found under any of the following:

  • Lipchitz, Jacques
  • Lipshits, Zak
  • Lifshits, Zák
  • Lipchitz, Jakoff
  • Lipchitz, Chaim Jacob
  • Lipschitz, Jakoff
  • Lipsic, Zak

It is generally best to search using only the last name. If more than one artist is found from your search, you will be given a list to choose from. The name displayed as a result of your search will be the most commonly accepted authoritative version even if it is not the version you searched under. For instance, if you searched for "Lifshits," the name "Lipchitz, Jacques" would appear. This can be confusing if the variant you searched is very different from the standard form of the name. A search for "Arpino" finds "Cesari, Giuseppe," who is also known as "Cavalier d'Arpino."

Since a search of an artist’s name brings up a sequence of letters, a search for "pica," for example, will yield "Picasso" and "Picabia." However, because we have included the variant names in our internal search mechanism, some anomalous results occur. For example, a search for "Hesse" brings up "d'Affry" (Duc[hesse] de Castiglione-Colonna). Similarly, "Frankenthaler" brings up "Motherwell" since a variant name is "Mrs. Robert Burns Motherwell").

A note on alphabetizing: Where possible, we have followed the alphabetizing system of the Library of Congress. This may cause some confusion with foreign names starting with the articles: le, van, de, della, and so forth, as it is not always consistent. Vincent Van Gogh is listed under "G" (Gogh); Giorgio de Chirico is listed under "D," and Piero della Francesca is listed under "P." This will not pose a problem if you search by the artist's name in the search box; it may cause confusion if you use the "browse" option. We have used the standard form of an artist's name as established by the Library of Congress in its Name Authority File or by The Getty in its Union List of Artist Names® (ULAN)...

The artist's dates are determined by the year of birth and/or the year of death. A pull-down menu allows you to search within a range of dates, e.g.1700–1799. The search will yield the names of all artists who were born or died between those dates for whom there are catalogues in the database.

An artist's country/nationality is determined by either the country of the artist's birth or death. Picasso, for example, will be found by searching either Spain (birthplace) or France (country of death). Present day country names are used. Thus, an artist who was born or died in Flanders will be found by a search for Belgium. An artist who was born or died in Sienna or Florence will be found by searching Italy.

In choosing to emphasize the artist's "country" of birth or death, we wanted to avoid thorny issues that might arise in categorizing artists by nationality or school of activity. For those artists who were born, worked, and died in only one or two countries, our system works well. But for artists like Alexander Archipenko, who was born in Russia and died in the United States, but who worked in Paris in his formative years, it is less useful. Similarly, for John Singer Sargent, who was born to American parents in Italy, and who studied in France and Italy and died in England, but who is generally considered an "American" artist, the IFAR system is also not ideal.

Catalogue authors can be searched by any part of their name. Where applicable, the database includes the names of several authors. In some catalogues raisonnés in progress and supplements to published catalogues, the names of the authors are not provided, indicating that these projects are still in the preliminary stages. We have included these projects with the understanding that new information will be updated as it is provided.

Search results: All searches will first bring up the Artist Name Page, which contains a list of artists’ names in interactive blue type. This list includes all artists who satisfy the search parameters. Clicking on an artist’s name brings up the Title Display Page. Catalogues in preparation are listed at the top of the page, and, below, the published catalogues raisonnés are listed in reverse chronological order. The listings on the Title Display Page contain abbreviated bibliographic information. Clicking on the individual titles will bring up the full record for the catalogue raisonné.

A note on series: Some search results will yield records for a series. These are catalogues that have been published in several parts typically over an extended time period. As an example, the series titled Picasso Project comprises 17 volumes printed over 9 years. A search on Picasso will retrieve, among a number of other records, the record for the Picasso Project under which will be listed all 17 parts. In some cases, we have created a series heading to group together publications that are related to each other, but were not part of a series per se. For example, two independent titles Jean Arp and Jean Arp Sculpture: His Last Ten Years are listed under the rubric Arp Sculpture. These two publications are not components of a series, but nevertheless refer to each other and are used in tandem. Series titles are given in black and contain basic bibliographic information and a brief comment on the number of volumes, supplements and reprintings. Clicking on individual volumes in the series, highlighted in blue, will bring up the complete record.

Two types of catalogues: As noted above, there are two separate databases which can be searched independently or together. The citations for published catalogues, however, are different than those for catalogues still in preparation. For published catalogues we note authors, book titles, publishers, dates of publication, languages (many recent catalogues are bi-lingual, even tri-lingual; others have been translated into English), and ancillary bibliographic information. This includes the size of the book (in centimeters), the edition, and the number and type of illustrations. Where possible, we have examined the actual book. "Content Notes" and "Public Notes" contain additional relevant information.

For catalogues in preparation, we have indicated, where known, the scope of the project, the sponsor, authors and committee members, contact information, anticipated publication or completion date, and review procedures. We have also indicated whether the new catalogue is a supplement to an existing catalogue, a continuation of an author's doctoral dissertation, or a completely new publication.

For catalogues in preparation, we have also indicated whether the authors charge a fee for reviewing works for inclusion. The fee will display either with the fee amount "Yes, 800 euros" or "Yes, unspecified" if we don’t know the fee amount, or if the authors do not wish to disclose the fee. If the authors did not indicate whether they charge a fee, no fee information will display. Even where the fee has been specified, please contact the Contact Person to verify the current fee. IFAR cannot be responsible for fee changes, incorrect fees, or any other information provided to us.



 

Contact Us with New Information

The IFAR databases are living documents that will be updated on a regular basis. There are inevitable lacunae. We would like to know of additional published catalogues as well as projects underway. BUT, please let us know about them in the format in which we are set up to accept and review new information. Please click "Tell Us about Catalogues Raisonnés" on the menu bar on the right side of the Catalogue Raisonné database homepage. This brings up a "contact" page with "data fields" for you to enter information about either a published catalogue or one in progress. Please be as specific and accurate as possible. If you are working on either a new catalogue raisonné or a supplement, you should request an electronic questionnaire that we designed specifically to elicit the information needed for the database. The questionnaire was sent initially to more than 200 people whom we believed were working on new catalogues and we continue to solicit information.

If you see an error in any of our entries, or have additional information, please feel free to send that information to us.

When sending information, please keep in mind our parameters and our definition of a catalogue raisonné.



 

Other Resources

For more information about catalogues raisonnés on prints and printmakers, please consult the Print Council of America's comprehensive Index to Print Catalogues Raisonné at: www.printcouncil.org/search.html. In addition, many listings within the inventories published by the Bibliothèque nationale, Paris, are virtually the equivalent of catalogues raisonnés on some printmakers; see, for example, Roger-Armand Weigert and Maxime Préaud, Inventaire du fonds français, graveurs du XVIIe siècle and Jean Laran et al., Inventaire du fonds français après 1800 (Paris: Bibliothèque Nationale, 15 vols., 1930-ongoing). Individual volumes within the Illustrated Bartsch series (New York and Norwalk, CT: Abaris Books, 96 vols., 1978-ongoing) should also be consulted for prints; those volumes published to date for individual artists or groups of artists are not currently listedin the IFAR database. As of 2007, some 50,000 images from the Illustrated Bartsch are also available electronically on ARTstor (www.artstor.org).

For general information about catalogues raisonnés, please visit the Website of the Catalogue Raisonné Scholars Association: www.catalogueraisonne.org.

Several major art historical compilations are also worth mentioning. Hofstede de Groot, A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century Based on the Work of John Smith (London: Macmillan, 8 vols., 1908-27), is an important corpus describing the oeuvres of individual Dutch artists. Studies by Bernard Berenson and Lionello Venturi also represent important historical efforts to reconstruct the oeuvres of Italian artists.

The catalogues of the holdings of large national museums and libraries – for example, the British Museum, the Louvre and the Uffizi – are also invaluable resources, especially for researching the prints and drawings of artists whose works were collected by monarchs or other wealthy patrons in earlier periods.



 

Purchasing catalogues raisonnés:

Catalogues raisonnés are generally printed in very limited editions, which sell out quickly. Many are out-of-print. As an aide to users of the IFAR databases who may wish to acquire a particular catalogue, IFAR has established links with three booksellers: Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com, and Alibris.com. You can find the links on the upper right corner of the Title Display Page in this section of our site. Clicking on the link to the bookseller will open a window to it, where you can make a purchase, but you will not leave the IFAR Website.



 

Acknowledgments

A project of this scope cannot take place without the help of many people and organizations. First and foremost, IFAR would like to thank the funders of the Catalogue Raisonné section of our Website for their generous support. These are:

  • The Henry Luce Foundation, which made a "lead" grant for the site in 2004
  • The Dedalus Foundation, Inc., which supported the publication of the proceedings of our "Conference on Catalogues Raisonnés and the Authentication Process" and then funded the Catalogue Raisonné Database Initiative
  • The Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation, which provided several grants for IFAR's Catalogue Raisonné Database Initiative
  • The Samuel H. Kress Foundation, which funded both the "Conference on Catalogues Raisonnés and the Authentication Process" and our Catalogue Raisonné Database Initiative

And also,

  • The Robert Lehman Foundation
  • The Florence Gould Foundation
  • The Pollock-Krasner Foundation
  • The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation
  • The Ida and William Rosenthal Foundation, Inc.

Several interns, consultants, volunteers, and staff members also worked on this project over a period of years. These include, primarily: Faith Pleasanton, Lisa Duffy-Zeballos, Gail Aronow, Robert deCandido, Gertrude Wilmers, Beatrice Kernan, and Sharon Flescher. In addition, we would like to thank: Eileen Costello, Rebecca Friedman, Lisa Schonemann Ballard, Sonia Bay, Alyson Jackere Schultz, Gwendolyn Egger Rochat, Anna Michalczyk, and Terry Medlin.