German Sales 1901-1945
Under the title "German Sales", almost 10,000 historical auction catalogues mainly published in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, are currently being made available online and in open access. One focus is on the year Years 1901 to 1945. The project included around 390 auction houses. The auction catalogues are the basis for research on the art market of the first half of the 20th century, on questions of collecting and taste formation as well as on individual artists and art genres. In addition, they are an indispensable source for provenance research. The auction catalogues, which are today scattered in many art and museum libraries, were previously difficult to access. To date, copies from more than 50 libraries and museums have been digitally merged. Centrally offered detailed search options including full text search now simplify and optimize access to the material. The auction catalogues, which were determined for the years 1930 to 1945 and for the years 1901 to 1929, are published in a bibliography and accessible through various registers.
It was created mainly within the framework of two DFG-funded projects:
- In the cooperation project “German Sales 1930–1945. Art Works, Art Markets, and Cultural Policy” carried out between 2010 and 2013 around 3,200 auction catalogues from the years 1930 to 1945 from Germany, Switzerland and Austria and the countries occupied by Germany during the Second World War were recorded, digitized and made available online. In addition to the Heidelberg University Library and the Berlin Art Library, the project partner was the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles. In addition to the DFG, the project was also funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the VolkswagenStiftung.
- In the follow-up project „Art – Auctions – Provenances. The German Art Trade as Reflected in Auction Catalogues from 1901 to 1929”, that was completed in 2019, 5,910 auction catalogues published between 1901 and 1929 in Germany, Austria and Switzerland were identified, recorded bibliographically, digitized and made freely accessible online.
The bibliographic data of the auction catalogues generated in Berlin and the OCR data of the individual catalogue entries generated in Heidelberg were made available to the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles. Approximately 832,000 records from around 5,000 catalogues of the paintings, drawings and sculptures auctioned in German-speaking countries were transferred to the sales description and sales content databases of the Getty Provenance Index®.
Even after these projects have been completed, “German Sales” will be expanded further. On the one hand, further catalogs for the years 1901–1945 are to be determined and made available online; on the other hand, the processing period will be extended to the 19th century. In addition, gallery and warehouse catalogs are to be integrated into the offer.
A particularly important addition to "German Sales" is the DFG project “Unique source material on the German art trade: Digitization and indexing of the hand copies of the catalogs of the Munich auction house Hugo Helbing (1887 to 1937)”, a joint project of the Central Institute for art history in Munich (ZI) and the Heidelberg University Library in cooperation with the TU Berlin which started on January 1, 2021. The aim is, on the one hand, the digitization and sustainable online provision of the previously known and not yet digitized hand copies of the catalogs of the Munich auction house Hugo Helbing (1895 to 1937) on the servers of the Heidelberg University Library. So far, around 1,100 such annotated hand copies are known, around 400 could already be put online in summer 2020 – i.e. before the start of the project. On the other hand, as part of the project at the ZI in Munich, the scientific description of the annotated catalog copies, a typification and systematization of the auction – Annotations as well as the development and evaluation of a model for their structured recording based on the Heidelberg annotation tool heiANNO.
Further information can be found under "Hand copies of the catalogs of the Hugo Helbing auction house".