Together with the Tokyo Art Club, the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo has started a project to create digital copies of art catalogues
An art catalogue is a brochure that is handed out before items in an individual or a family’s collection are sold at sale place on a certain date. An art catalogue features photographs and it lists the name and medium of artworks such as paintings, calligraphic works, and art objects. Such a catalogue is a vital source with which to determine an artwork’s provenance. Such catalogues enjoy a limited distribution, so only a handful of facilities nationwide curate auction catalogues as a whole.
In its collection, the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo has a total of 2,532 art catalogues that were printed from the late Meiji Era to the Showa Era. The Institute has the largest number of these catalogues among public repositories in Japan. The Tokyo Art Club has long been involved in the sale of artworks since its founding in 1907.Over this period, the Tokyo Art Club has amassed a number of catalogues it has published.
In the past, the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo recorded information in art catalogues on cards with attached photographs and made these cards available to researchers in the Institute’s Library. However, original art catalogues were often poorly preserved. Thus, the Institute joined with the Tokyo Art Club to start a project to create digital copies of art catalogues.
This project will fully reproduce older art catalogues (i.e. catalogues printed prior to 1943) in the collections of the Institute and the Tokyo Art Club in digital format. These images and information will then be shared in an effort to preserve these important sources.
Reproducing images and information in these art catalogues in digital format should further enhance databases of important materials in the Institute’s collection.