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Art History and Visual Studies: A Research Guide: Auction & Sales Resources

This research guide to art history and visual studies emphasizes reference resources and databases available to members of the Cornell community through the Cornell University Library.

Auction catalogs

Major American and British auction houses include Bonham's, Christie's, Phillips De Pury, Sotheby's, Swann Galleries, and Tajan, but there are many, many others. The Cornell Library does not collect auction catalogs (with the exception of collections donated to the library, as in the Bertram Rosen Collection, Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections), although it does hold quite a few. Here's how to find them in the catalog:

Subject keywords:

Art dealers--Periodicals.

(substitute geographical information):
Art objects, African --Catalogs.

Try a publisher search for the auction house name, such as:

advanced search for
publisher=Sotheby and

Marketing Guides


Cornell researchers now have access to Bénézit via Oxford Art Online. Bénézit includes some auction records in biographical entries on individual artists.


Reference Works

Historical sales information

Archival Material: Auction Catalogs, Dealers' & Gallery Records

Archives of American Art. Guide to Commercial Art Gallery Records. Many of these collections contain financial records, correspondence, and photographic documentation of objects acquired and sold in the twentieth century.

Getty: Duveen Brothers Archive Finding Guide.

Records and Research at the National Archives and Records Administration. A descriptive guide to records on holocaust-era assets at the National Archives at College Park, Maryland. Includes links to related resources at other institutions.

Other Web sites

Fee-based Market Resources