How to Read Provenance Information
The provenance for a work of art in the Museum's collections is listed in chronological order, beginning with the earliest known owner. Life dates of an owner, collector, or dealer, if known, are enclosed in parentheses. A known association of a work of art with a specific dealer, auction house, or agent is indicated. Relationships between owners and methods of transactions are indicated by punctuation. A semicolon is used to indicate that the work passed directly between two owners (including dealers, auction houses, or agents), and a period is used to separate two owners (including dealers, auction houses, or agents) if a direct transfer did not occur or is not known to have occurred. Footnotes are used to document or clarify information.
It is important to bear in mind that gaps in provenance do not necessarily indicate that a work was looted or stolen. Provenance information is frequently difficult to uncover or establish. For example, when a single family has owned a painting for several generations there is probably no record of sale. Frequently, private collectors prefer to buy and sell works anonymously through dealers or auction houses, whose records may therefore not disclose the name of the owner. Moreover, many dealers and auction houses that were active in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries are no longer in business and their records may have been lost or destroyed. Thus it is rare to find works of art having a complete history of ownership. The Museum is committed to establishing as accurate a provenance as possible for all the works of art in its collections, a process which takes many decades of focused research.