How to Read Provenance Texts

The Art Institute of Chicago has adapted the format suggested by The AAM Guide to Provenance Research (Washington, D.C.: 2001).

The provenance for a work of art in the Art Institute's collection is listed in chronological order, beginning with the earliest known owner. Death dates of owners, if known and significant to the transfer or inheritance of the work, are enclosed in parentheses.

Relationships between owners and methods of transactions are indicated in the text and clarified through punctuation. Uncertain information is preceded by the terms "possibly" or "probably," while methods of transfer are specified with terms such as "sold," "by descent," and "given." 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.

Information that documents and/or clarifies the provenance is included within brackets.

Collection Updates

To ensure that your museum experience meets your expectations, check our Collection Updates page to learn about gallery closures and major artworks that may be off view during your visit.

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