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What's in the Library: Books

What is a Catalogue Raisonné?

A catalogue raisonné is a comprehensive, annotated listing of all the known works of an artist either in a particular medium or all media. They are meticulous researched and oftentimes provide the authoritative source for information on an artist's life, the dates of creation for their artworks, exhibition histories, and the provenance or ownership record of the artists' oeuvre. 

Works included are usually ordered chronologically and may be subdivided by stylistic period; for example: Picasso: the Blue and Rose periods; A Catalogue Raisonne of the Paintings, 1900-1906 . Others are occasionally ordered thematically or by subject (see: 200 artworks, 25 years: Artists' Editions for Parkett [Magazine] ) or could focus on a specific medium of an artist (The Prints of Betty Goodwin).

As to be expected, these unique forms of art publications often take decades to produce and often are published posthumously. As such they are seminal resources for in-depth research and may provide some or all of the following:

  • Title and title variations
  • Dimension/Size
  • Date of the work
  • Medium
  • Current location/owner at time of publication
  • Provenance (history of ownership)
  • Exhibition history
  • Condition of the work
  • Bibliography/Literature that discusses the work
  • Essay(s) on the artist
  • Critical assessments and remarks
  • Full description of the work
  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Monograms of the artist
  • Reproduction of each work
  • List of works attributed, lost, destroyed, and fakes
  • Catalog number

"What is a Catalogue Raisonné?" New York Public Library, 2018,