The Getty Provenance Index® contains more than 2.2 million records that can be used for a wide variety of research purposes. The research examples below show how the data can be used.

For assistance searching the databases, and for more information about the Project for the Study of Collecting and Provenance, see the following:

Research Examples

Trace Ownership
The Getty Provenance Index can be used to establish the provenance of a work of art:

The J. Paul Getty Museum acquired The Entombment (ca. 1612) by Peter Paul Rubens in a Christie's sale in 1992. At that time, the provenance of the painting could only be traced as far back as the mid-19th century. The number 146, located on the face of the painting, appeared to be an inventory number.

A search in the Getty Provenance Index retrieved a single record in which the artist name (Rubens) and item number (146) matched. The search led to a 1651 inventory preserved in the Archivo de la Casa de Alba, Palacio de Liria in Madrid, which lists this Rubens painting. Possibly its first owner was Gaspar de Haro y Guzmán Carpio (1629–1687). The Getty Provenance Index provides additional information about the collector, inventory, and related documents.

Discover Patterns and Trends
The Getty Provenance Index can also be used to reveal a wide variety of collecting patterns, including those related to consumer behavior, market trends, dealer networks, and modes of display.

The example above analyzes patterns of display in Rome from 1550 through 1750. Nearly 300 Roman inventories comprised of 65,000 individual records were used to demonstrate whether there was a change in the distribution of painted subjects over time, in various rooms of a palace, or among different social levels of palace owners.

By request, users can obtain a .csv export of data for use with programs such as Excel, Access, and Filemaker, and various data visualization tools.

For example, the visualization (detail) below of over 230,000 Getty Provenance Index records from Belgian, British, Dutch, and French art markets reflects networks in the European auction market from 1801 to 1820.

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How to Search the Getty Provenance Index

Before you begin your search, see what's currently covered in the Getty Provenance Index by country, year, and type of document.

Search using original language

You must enter search terms in the original language of the document (Dutch, English, French, German, or Spanish) to retrieve records. For example, titles in French sales records must be searched in French.

Search by keywords

Enter single words in the appropriate language (see Search using original language above). Indicate truncation on any word with an asterisk (*). Spaces between words are interpreted as "AND." For example, "entombment rubens" will retrieve records that contain both "entombment" and "rubens."

Search by artist or owner name

In the Artist, or Owner fields, enter a first name and/or last name in any order (e.g., Peter Paul Rubens or Peter Rubens or Rubens Peter). Do not use a comma to separate first and last name. Separate multiple names with a semicolon (;). The semicolon is interpreted as the Boolean search operator "OR" so the results will have either one artist OR another OR both.

To search for two artists or two owners in the same record, you can use a combination of one of the specific name fields and the Keywords field. For example, to find a copy by Reinagle after Poussin, you would enter "reinagle" in the Artist field and "copy poussin" in the Keywords field.

Records may contain two forms of a name—the form that appears verbatim in the original document and the authority form of the name that has been assigned by the Getty Provenance Index editors. You will get more complete results by searching for the authority form of the name. For example, a search for the artist "Droogsloot" will return 428 records. When you view one of these records, you will see that the authority form for this name is "Droochsloot." Repeating your search using the authority spelling "Droochsloot" will return 865 records.

Search by event date

Year, month, and day: yyyy mm dd (e.g., 1689 10 31)
Year and month: yyyy mm* (e.g., 1689 10*)
Year: yyyy* (e.g., 1689*)
Range of years: yyyy* through yyyy* (e.g., 1689* through 1710*)

The Event Date field includes both the sale dates for auctions and the specific date for a lot or the date an object was sold (for dealer stock books).

Sale dates for auctions are limited to the first day of the sale only. For a multiday sale, you must search the first day of the sale in order to find all of the records related to that sale. If you find a lot that was sold on a subsequent day of the sale and you would like to find the corresponding description record, you can follow the direct link to the "Sale Description" at the bottom of the record.

Search by subject

Subject terms have been assigned only to records from British 18th-century auction catalogs, German 20th-century auction catalogs, and dealer stock books, so a subject search will limit your results to those sections of the database.

You can also search by subject in the Archival Inventory Contents, which uses the Iconclass system of codes and English-language headings to describe the subjects of images represented in works of art.

Search information on 20th-century artists

The Goupil and Knoedler Stock Book records contain some 20th-century material. See a quick overview of what's currently covered in the databases by country, year, and type of document.

View a full transcription of an archival inventory

Click on "Full Transcription of the Inventory" in the See Also field on the full record display page.

Save search results as a PDF

Select the "PDF" option on the search results page.

If you receive an error message

Please email the error message, along with a description of what you did before you received it, to Collecting and Provenance Research, and we will attempt to help you.

If you receive the message "Your search did not retrieve any hits"

Try broadening your search criteria and view these charts to see what's currently covered in the database by country, year, and type of document.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I become a contributor?

Contributors generally have backgrounds in paleography, art history, or romance languages. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer contributor to the Getty Provenance Index, please email your qualifications to Collecting and Provenance Research.

How do I evaluate the authenticity of a work of art?

We do not provide this service and recommend that you contact a qualified art appraiser or auction house.

Can you appraise a work of art I own?

We do not provide, endorse, recommend, or guarantee appraisal services. However, the Getty Library does offer an Appraisals Research Guide.

Who do I contact about selling a work of art that I own?

Contact the curator of the appropriate department at the J. Paul Getty Museum. Please include a photograph and any information on the piece you may want to sell. The Museum will attempt to direct you to the appropriate dealers, museums, or auction houses for advice.

What is Iconclass?

Used by institutions around the world, Iconclass is the most widely accepted classification system for visual documents. Iconclass is used to index, catalog, and describe the subjects of images in paintings, drawings, photographs, and other works of art. Learn more.

I believe information in a record is incorrect. Who do I contact?

We encourage users to contact Collecting and Provenance Research if they find information in any database that they think may be incorrect. In your email, please include the record number (which appears at the top of the record) and your source for the information to be corrected.

How do I obtain a copy of a sales catalog or inventory?

Photocopies of many of the documents in the Getty Provenance Index are available at the Getty Research Institute in the Collectors Files or the Sales Catalog Files.

Are there images of artwork in the databases?

Currently the databases do not contain images of artworks.

How do I cite the Getty Provenance Index in a publication?

Please use the following: Getty Provenance Index®. J. Paul Getty Trust

The Getty Provenance Index® is a registered trademark of the J. Paul Getty Trust.

Getty Provenance Index®,, accessed [date]. The Getty Provenance Index® is a registered trademark of the J. Paul Getty Trust.

The Getty Provenance Index® is updated regularly so it is recommended that the citation include the date of consultation, given in the ISO 8601 form (YYYY-DD-MM), e.g., "Getty Provenance Index®,, accessed 2019-06-30."

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