Complete provenance: the exception, not the rule.

It is rare to have complete provenance for an object, particularly for works hundreds of years old. Missing information may be due to lost or destroyed documentation, forgotten oral histories, or a good-faith gift or purchase made without any record of the exchange. The provenance information posted here reflects current research to date (updated 1 August 2019).

How to read a Provenance (+ use of footnotes)

The provenance format presented here is a hybrid of those used by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, and the Getty Center, Los Angeles.

Provenance is listed in chronological order, beginning with the artist and date of execution and moving forward to the present day. 

The date range of ownership precedes each name followed by, if known, birth and death dates and the location(s) of owners. 

“Private collection” indicates that we know the work was owned by a person or entity, but not a dealer, gallery, auction house, or agent and can mean one of two things: (1) We do not know the name of the owner or seller of that work; or (2) we know the name of the owner or seller, but it is a condition of the sale or gift that his/her identity not be revealed.

“Private Dealer” means that we know the work was owned by a dealer or gallery but we do not know the name.

In cases where it is known that an object was sold on consignment, i.e. through a dealer, gallery, auction house, or agent, parentheses are used to delineate that the object was with the person or entity but not legally owned by them. 

Relationships between owners and methods of transactions are indicated by punctuation: (1) A semicolon is used to indicate that the work passed directly between the two names; and (2) a period is used to separate two names if a direct transfer did not occur or is not known to have occurred.

Uncertain information is indicated by the terms “possibly” or “probably.”

A few common formats for date ranges of ownership include:

The work entered this collection in 1955 and left in 1970.

The work entered this collection in 1955, but it is not known when it left.

It is not known when the work entered this collection, but it left in 1955.

by 1955–; or before 1955–
The work was in this collection by 1955, but may have entered it earlier.

–still in 1955
The work was still in this collection in 1955, and may have left it at a later date.

“n.d.” (no date) indicates that the work was with or owned by this name but precise dates are not known. 

The work was accessioned into the Johnson Museum’s collection in 1970 and is still in the collection.



World War II-Era Provenance

American Alliance of Museums (AAM):
AAM’s Guidelines Concerning the Unlawful Appropriation of Objects During the Nazi Era, issued November 1999, and amended April 2001

Nazi-Era Provenance Internet Portal (NEPIP)

Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD): Resolutions of Claims for Nazi-Era Cultural Assets

Ancient Art and Archeological Materials Provenance

American Alliance of Museums (AAM): Resources: Ethics, Standards and Best Practices

Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) Object Registry: New Acquisitions of Archaeological Material and Works of Ancient Art
AAMD Guidelines and Policies: New Acquisitions of Archaeological Material and Works of Ancient Art

Strengthened Guidelines on the Acquisition of Archaeological Material and Ancient Art Issued by Association of Art Museum Directors, January 30, 2013

UNESCO: World Heritage Centre

International Council of Museums (ICOM): Red Lists of Cultural Objects at Risk

Cultural Heritage Center, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, US Department of State



World War II-Era Provenance

American Association of Museums. Vitalizing Memory: International Perspectives on Provenance Research. Washington, DC: American Association of Museums, 2005.

Feliciano, Hector. The Lost Museum: The Nazi Conspiracy to Steal the World’s Greatest Works of Art. New York: Basic Books, 1997.

Nicholas, Lynn H. The Rape of Europa: The Fate of Europe’s Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War. New York: Knopf, 1994.

Wechsler, Helen J., Teri Coate-Saal, John Lukavic, and Roxana Adams. Museum Policy and Procedure for Nazi-Era Issues. Resource Report. Washington, DC: American Association of Museums, 2001.

Yeide, Nancy H., Konstantin Akinsha, and Amy L. Walsh. The AAM Guide to Provenance Research. Washington, DC: The American Association of Museums, 2001.

Ancient Art and Archeological Materials Provenance

Cuno, James B. Who Owns Antiquity?: Museums and the Battle Over Our Ancient Heritage. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008.

Feigenbaum, Gail and Inge Jackson Reist. Provenance: An Alternate History of Art. Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2013.

Felch, Jason, and Ralph Frammolino. Chasing Aphrodite: The Hunt for Looted Antiquities at the World’s Richest Museum. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 

Fitz Gibbon, Kate, ed. Who Owns the Past?: Cultural Policy, Cultural Property and the Law. New Brunswick and London: Rutgers University Press, in association with American Council for Cultural Policy, 2005. 

La Follette, Laetitia, ed. Negotiating Culture: Heritage, Ownership, and Intellectual Property. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2013. 

O’Keefe, Patrick J. Commentary on the UNESCO 1970 Convention on Illicit Traffic. Leicester: Institute of Art and Law, 2000. 

Prott, Lyndel V. Commentary on the Unidroit Convention on Stolen and Illegally Exported Cultural Objects 1995. Leicester: Institute of Art and Law, 1997. 

Watson, Peter, and Cecilia Todeschini. The Medici Conspiracy: The Illicit Journey of Looted Antiquities, from Italy’s Tomb Raiders to the World’s Greatest Museums. New York: BBS Public Affairs, 2006. 

Waxman, Sharon. Loot: The Battle Over the Stolen Treasures of the Ancient World. New York: Times Books, 2008. 

Online resources

Getty Research Institute: Collecting and Provenance Research

University of Glasgow: Chinese Art-Research into Provenance

US National Archives and Records Administration: Holocaust International Resources