The Sales Catalog Files are a physical repository for the photocopies of many of the documents indexed in the Getty Provenance Index® and most of the pre-20th-century catalogs in the databases are included. The Sales Files complement, but are separate from, the catalog copies in the Getty Library collection and cannot be found in the Library Catalog. More than 10,000 catalogs from auction and private contract sales are represented by photocopies in the Sales Files. The PSCP department has brought together photocopies of catalogs from dozens of institutions in Europe and the United States. In many cases, the institution housing the original copy has now scanned the document and made it available online. In other cases, however, the original could be difficult to access.

Time Periods and Countries Covered

The coverage of the Sales Catalog Files is based on that of the Provenance Index Sales Catalog databases and includes sales that took place in Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Scandinavia between the years 1670 and 1870. For a detailed breakdown of the coverage for each country, please see What's Covered in the Databases.

The coverage for each country is as follows:

  • Belgium: 1701–1840
  • Britain: 1682–1850
  • France: 1719–1800, 1808–1820 (1824–1870, Procès-Verbaux Files not in Provenance Index)
  • Germany and Scandinavia: 1670–1800
  • Netherlands: 1801–1820

Procès-Verbaux Files: The Sales Files include a series of photocopies from the Archives Nationales, Paris, of French auction results, or procès-verbaux. This series includes photocopies of a selection of French auction catalogs from the years 1824–1870, which are not recorded in the Provenance Index Sales Catalog databases.

(Note: There are a number of photocopies that have been transferred from the Sales Files to the Getty Library. For example, most of the French catalog copies from 1801–1807 and selected British and German catalog copies have been incorporated into the general library collection. If a sale has been recorded in the Provenance Index but is not in the Sales Files, you may be able to find it in the Library Catalog.

Scope of Catalogs Covered

The scope of the catalogs included in the Sales Catalog Files is based on the scope of the material indexed in the Provenance Index Sales Catalog databases: primarily paintings are indexed for all 19th-century sales and for 18th-century Belgian and German sales. There is more expansive coverage for 18th-century British and French sales (paintings, drawings, sculptures, tapestries, miniatures, and enamels). Therefore, the inclusion of a catalog in the Sales Files depends on the presence of covered material in the sale. Book sales, print sales, and sales of general household goods may be included if they contain objects that are in scope for that period. For instance, the photocopy of an 18th-century British print sale may be found in the Sales Files if drawings were also included in the sale. (Note: For some sales, especially in the 19th century, only the relevant section of the catalog may be included.)

Sale Results

Individual copies of sales catalogs often include handwritten annotations providing information about the seller, buyer, sale price, and other notes. This information may come from the auctioneer or from a collector who attended the sale. We have attempted to obtain or view as many copies of each sale as possible and the Sales Files may include multiple copies of a sale, each with different annotations.


The files are arranged in sections by country and century. Within each section, the sales are arranged chronologically. Many of the photocopies are marked with the Provenance Index number and/or Lugt number, but it is best to search by sale date.


The Sales Catalog Files, housed in the Getty Library, are available to Readers, residential scholars, and staff after an initial orientation. The Sales Files are located near the Collectors Files. Please contact Library Reference for an appointment or for more information on how to access the catalogs.