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In the Library: The Art of Sleuthing—Evidence of Collectors Who Made their Mark

Past Exhibition

July 5 – September 23, 2022
East Building, Ground Level - Library

Works of art can pass through many hands after leaving the artist’s studio. This history of ownership, referred to as provenance, often includes a transfer of the artwork between the artist, dealers, collectors, and institutions. Gaps in provenance frequently occur due to a lack of records, but they can also indicate something more nefarious, such as theft or hidden property.

Discover some of the fascinating stories of collectors, including actress Greta Garbo, who left evidence of ownership and the curators, dealers, and scholars who traced the origins of works. Photographs, prints, albums, and handwritten notes reveal intriguing details about works of art and the people who once owned them.

The Art of Sleuthing: Evidence of Collectors Who Made Their Mark draws from resources and documents in the Department of Image Collections in the National Gallery of Art Library.

Selected Works

Organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington



The exhibition is curated by Molli Kuenstner, image specialist for northern and central European art, National Gallery of Art.

Admission is always free and passes are not required

Banner detail: Lida Moser (1920–2014), photographer, John Koch with His Painting Dora at Setauket and Jan Steen’s Painting Rich Man and Lazarus, gelatin silver print, November 22, 1969 (printed 1986) © Lida Moser Archive, Department of Image Collections