New Research Tools from the Getty

Posted in resources by Editor on July 29, 2010

As recently posted to the caah listserv (Consortium of Art and Architectural Historians) . . .

The Getty Research Institute is pleased to announce the new Provenance Index® database “Payments to Artists.”

The wealth of most Renaissance and Baroque painters was principally derived from what they earned selling their art. Data that documents payments to artists—as opposed to resale prices or inventory evaluations—is the primary means for analyzing the socioeconomic lives of painters in early modern Europe. This new online database contains approximately 1,000 payments recorded in Rome between 1576 and 1711.

We are grateful to Richard Spear who gathered this set of data in order to write the Rome section of his book Painting for Profit: The Economic Lives of Seventeenth-Century Italian Painters (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010), which focuses on painters active in five major Italian cities. In its initial phase, this new Provenance Index® database is limited to information from Richard Spear’s research. It nonetheless is conceived as an open-ended, pilot project that can be easily corrected and significantly expanded as other scholars provide information from all periods of Western painting.

In addition, we would like to let patrons know of the following resources actively being added to and made freely available from the Getty website. The Getty Provenance Index® databases, part of the Project for the Study of Collecting and Provenance (PSCP), are compiled with the collaborative participation of institutions and individuals in Europe and the United States. The databases contain indexed transcriptions of inventories, auction catalogs, and stock books. More than one million records covering the period from the late sixteenth to the early twentieth century are searchable online. Originally designed as research tool for the ownership history of individual masterpieces, the index also allows scholars to model complex market developments, social networks, and cultural transfers.

  • 64,000 new records from French auction catalogs of the 1770s and 1780s have recently been added to the Sales databases, completing a collaborative project with the Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art in Paris. The French auction market from the early 17th to the early 19th centuries is therefore fully covered.
  • A new custom display and downloading feature has been implemented which accommodates statistical analysis and data visualizations. Users are now able to save up to 10,000 records onto their computers and manipulate them according to their own scholarly purposes.