What is provenance?

Provenance of a work of art is the detailed history of its origin. It is a set of important data about an object, by which we can recognize that we are dealing with the original. Provenance can be defined as "good" or "bad", which is reflected in the popularity of the work and the price it can reach at an auction. Before you decide to invest your funds in a work of art, you should make sure to obtain as much information about the object as possible. When you already own a work of art, you should meticulously collect all documents related to it.

Provenance includes, among others, information about:

  • authenticity – it can be a confirmation from the artist, a document or a certificate from an expert, as well as a special stamp, hologram or a sticker;
  • individuals or institutions that have held the work until the given moment;
  • the history of exhibitions of the work in museums and art galleries;
  • publications (catalogs, magazines, books) in which information about or an illustration of the work is found.

Why does provenance matter?

Provenance is important from the point of view of both the investor and the seller. It certifies the authenticity of a work of art, dispelling potential doubts about forgery. The provenance of a work of art also influences its attractiveness on the art market and, consequently, its price. An artwork whose history may be considered important or interesting for various reasons, e.g., it was in the possession of a recognized collector or was recovered from another country, will certainly be valued more highly by an appraiser.

Added 2022-04-06 in Terms dictionary by Julia Wysocka

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