Provenance: The provenance is the ownership record of the artwork in question. Uncovering the history of an object can prove to be both fascinating and tricky due to the nature of private sales. The most important thing to keep in mind is that the artwork must, in the end, trace back to its origin—the artist—thus proving the authenticity. If the succeeding history is long, the provenance will illuminate layer after layer of the artwork’s artistic and cultural value. If an artwork was part of an important collection or had been exhibited in notable institutions, this will undoubtedly affect the value (and in turn, desirability) of the work.
What are the different types of provenance? Previous appraisals by a renowned expert, inventory number tied to the de-accession from a museum or collection, inclusion in an auction catalogue, or a receipt/bill of sale are all items that can help establish the history of an object. Labels on the back of an artwork that denote the gallery and year of sale are also important indicators.