International Catalogue Raisonné Association

Why have a catalogue raisonné

What ICRA Founding Members say:

“Catalogues raisonnés are the building blocks of art history, says Prof Brian Allen. The absence of a reliably established corpus of works by a given artist inevitably leads to misattributed works continuing to be reproduced and discussed in error. Unfashionable though the genre has undoubtedly become in academic circles, especially in the universities in recent decades, the publication of a reliable catalogue raisonné usually results in a significant boost to the quality of subsequent publications about that artist’s work.”

Honey Luard says: “From a commercial perspective, [a catalogue raisonné] helps to create certainty in the market place.”

Sarah Whitfield says: “A catalogue raisonné at its best is a multi-tasking tool, rather like a Swiss army penknife. Its first function is to establish an artist’s oeuvre in chronological order but in doing so it opens up key opportunities for research such as the formation and history of taste. Information relating to exhibitions, or to when and where a work was first reproduced, can have a major art-historical significance. Similarly, details of the ownership of a work can throw unexpected light on a work within its period. It also provides a platform for analysing and recording evidence relating to an artist’s technique, a field that is continually being updated by advances in conservation, and one that will surely be increasingly important in the future. It is a vital tool for establishing or indeed, questioning, authenticity.”

Dr Sharon Hecker says: "A catalogue raisonné, if well-researched, reliable and independent from the market, can be one of several useful tools for cataloguing and understanding an artist’s oeuvre. It can become authoritative and gain scholarly consensus if the information provided in it is dependable and supported by convincing reasoning, and if it stands the test of time."

Caroline Porter says: “An in depth, properly researched and reliable catalogue raisonné provides an essential tool for the cataloguing of an artist’s work, whether in an institutional or commercial context. Most importantly, if meticulously researched, it can serve to protect the oeuvre of the artist from exploitation by reducing the scope for false works flooding the market and can help preserve the artist’s reputation for perpetuity.”

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