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The National Gallery of Art Library offers access to a range of sales and auction information in print, microform, and online formats. Such primary sales information can be valuable to researchers investigating provenance, making appraisals, or studying the history of taste or the art market.

Printed auction catalogs

One of the most extensive collections of US and European art auction catalogs in North America, the library houses more than 100,000 of these publications from the 18th century to the present.  Some catalogs, including those donated by the National Gallery's founding benefactors, such as Chester and Maud Dale, are annotated with prices and even the names of buyers and sellers. Many 20th-century and almost all 21st-century catalogs include final price lists, and price lists from more recent sales have been digitized and are directly accessible through our library catalog.

Search the library’s holdings of printed auction catalogs.

Online databases

The library provides on-site access to subscription databases that track many recent and historic art auctions and include lot descriptions, images, estimated prices, and results. Library reference staff can point users to additional online resources for provenance research.

Printed indexes

The library maintains a selection of indexes detailing past sales information for fine art and works on paper, including Art Price Index, Art Sales Index, and Mayer’s International Auction Records, along with Gordon’s Print Price Annual and Lawrence’s Dealer Print Prices.

Microform collections

The Knoedler Library Auction Catalogues on Microfiche and the Sotheby’s microfilm collection include selected American, Dutch, British, German and Belgian sales from the 18th through the 20th centuries.

Resources relating to World War II

For information on disposition of works of art lost during World War II, the library’s image collections and Gallery Archives offer guides and finding aids.

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