How to research artists and art works. Locating reproductions and recent art sales by artists.
Fine art auction sales indexes record the details of sales. These can give an indication of the monetary value of a work at a particular point in time. But of course, as with any auction, there is no guarantee that other comparable works by the same artist will sell for the same amount.
There are a range of online and print sources for finding details of auction sales of fine arts.
Large auction houses often prepare detailed illustrated catalogues for auctions. These can assist with the provenance of a work.
There are no comprehensive indexes to catalogues published by auction houses, however the indexes listed below can assist with locating items in auction catalogues. Items listed for sale but not sold are often not listed in these indexes.
Sale prices for works sold by Australian and international auction houses
See these databases containing a wide range of information on art and artists. Most require a Victorian registration for access.
. The Library holds an extensive collection of auction sales catalogues. However we do not hold all catalogues for all the different types of auctions or locations of auctions.
There are no indexes to everything listed for sale in catalogues of various auction houses.
Auction catalogues can be searched on the Library catalogue using subject terms such as:
For more general material search using subject terms such as art prices.
Sotheby's is one of the major international fine art auction houses. The company was founded by London bookseller Samuel Baker and the first auction catalogue was published in 1733
Individual items sold by Sotheby's are indexed in both Blouins (see tab above) and Australian art auction records (see box above).
This Library holds print copies Sotheby's auction catalogues for sales in many categories. See the catalogue record for a full listing.
Specific dates can be ordered from the generic catalogue record, but some catalogues may also be listed by the specific title of the auction. For example Catalogue of the collections formed by the late Lord Carmichael of Skirling or Highly important Old Master and British paintings, from the collection of Sir Joseph Robinson
Some categories issue from either London or New York, some from both London and New York, and some categories include auctions at locations in other cities.
Sotheby's London publishes an annual auction highlights. This is selective and is not an index to all sales or auction items.
The Library holds a microfilm collection of 21,000 Sotheby's catalogues, from 1734 to 1980. To find what is held within this collection view the printed indexes held in the Art Library. These will show what catalogues are on what film reels. Reels can be ordered from storage and viewed in the Library. Printing and downloading from microfilm is available.
Each issue also has an individual title. Since November, 2010 issues need to be searched and ordered under their individual title. For those catalogues, go to the main record and click on the Locations tab and then Recent issues, for a listing of individual titles. To order any of these catalogues, search for the individual title. For example "Important Australian art" Sotheby*.
When searching the catalogue by title or keyword, include the term Sotheby* to avoid irrelevant items. (The asterisk * will return results including Sotheby and Sotheby's).
Many catalogues prior to 2011 are catalogued by title, but can also be ordered by date from the main record.
Volume 48; (2006 May 17- Nov. 23) includes a chronological sale title index 1974-2006. Note that volume 1 is dated November 8, 1974, volume 2 is dated March 23, 1983.
Christie's was founded in 1766 by James Christie, and is one of the world's major fine art auction houses.
Many catalogues are catalogued under specific titles. Christie's review of the year is an overview of the year's sale highlights.
Major international fine art auction houses such as Sotheby's and Christie's (see tabs above) have offices in Australia.
Leonard Joel is a major Australian fine art auction house that was established in 1919. The Library holds a range of catalogues of Joel auctions. Many of these can can be ordered by date. Others are catalogued under the specific name of the auction. For example: The Charles Ruwolt collection of Australian paintings.
Australian auction catalogues can be searched using subject terms such as:
Pedigree and panache : a history of the art auction in Australia by Shireen Huda includes case studies of key art auctions and major art auction houses in Australia and explores the development of the Australian fine art marketplace