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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 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

To see if there is a raisonné on a specific artist, consult Art Books: a basic bibliography of monographs on artists by Wolfgang M. Freitag, as well as the A.C.I.: art catalogue index: catalogues raisonnés & critical catalogues of artists 1780–2008. You may also search online through the Catalogue Raisonné Database provided by the International Foundation for Art Research (IFAR). 

In the Library’s Catalog, you need to search for an artist using Last Name, First Name in the ‘Subject’ field, such as: 

     Pollock, Jackson

The entries will look as follows:

     Pollock, Jackson, 1912–1956 – Catalogs
     Pollock, Jackson, 1912–1956 – Catalogues raisonnés
     Pollock, Jackson, 1912–1956 – Criticism and interpretation

However, not all raisonnés are identified in the Catalog; some may be listed under the subject: ‘Catalogs.’

Other terms that may be used in place of catalogue raisonné are:

  • Oeuvre
  • Catalogo Razonado
  • Catalogo Ragionato
  • Catalogo Generale
  • Opera Completa
  • Werkverzeichnis
  • Leben und Werk
  • Oeuvrekatalog
  • Complete Works
  • Critical Catalogue
  • Life and Work

The catalogue raisonnés collection is located and requested at the reference desk in the Art & Architecture Collection; the call numbers begin with (C.R.). According to some scholars, not all volumes collected and placed in our reference desk collection are true  catalogues raisonnés. We have included books that provide the closest listing of all the works of an artist that is available at the moment. Any raisonnés dealing with etchings, lithographs, and prints are housed in our Print Collection, Room 308.

Organizations Dealing with Catalogues raisonné:

Catalogue Raisonné Scholars Association

International Foundation for Art Research (IFAR)

Index to Print Catalogues Raisonnés:

The Print Council Index to Oeuvre-Catalogues of Prints by European and American Artists