The Wildenstein Plattner Institute is pleased to announce the launch of the WPI Digital Archives – a repository of over 50,000 digital resources documenting the work of French dealers, collectors, and artists from the 18th to the 20th centuries. The materials that comprise the WPI Digital Archives were originally assembled by the Wildenstein Institute throughout the 20th century and maintained at their offices in Paris. Founded by the Wildenstein family, the Institute acquired these materials to facilitate the research for the publication of catalogues raisonnés. In 2016, the Wildenstein family joined forces with the Hasso Plattner Stiftung to transform the archives into a state-of-the-art resource for art historians, scholars, and the general public. This philanthropic partnership resulted in the creation of The Wildenstein Plattner Institute, which was gifted the archives in 2017. The WPI is presently scanning and processing this treasure trove of materials so that selections can be made available on this new web platform, where users can engage with the high-definition scanned materials whose study will advance the study of art history.
In addition to the WPI Digital Archives, the Sales Catalogues database allows users to search 11,000+ pre-1945 sales catalogues, some of them annotated, from around the world. This expansive collection has been digitized and processed using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology–allowing these scanned materials to be searched by keyword, auction house, city, date, artist, or collector name. Researchers can now browse this annotated catalogue from the 1924 sale of the collection of French poet Paul Éluard with works by Georges Braque, Giorgio de Chirico, Pablo Picasso, and Man Ray; this 1884 Edouard Manet Estate sales catalogue; or this catalogue of the sale of the Carlo Varelli collection from 1892, which includes reproductions of a painting by Jean Mabuse, decorative arts objects, and rooms from the Varelli’s home.
The Ambroise Vollard Records is arguably the most significant collection to be released as part of the WPI Digital Archives. This collection includes stock books documenting some of the dealers’ transactions between 1899 and 1938. Stock book A and Stock book C provide information on the provenance of works Vollard bought and sold to collectors with dates and prices. These stock books and inventories will provide crucial information to provenance researchers working on 19th and 20th century artists such as Bonnard, Caillebotte, Cézanne, Corot, Delacroix, Renoir, or Valodon. Similarly, the copy of Vollard’s Estate Inventory, established after his death in 1939, is a significant legal document researchers can now easily access. The Photograph Reproductions series contains approximately 4,690 black and white photographs of drawings, paintings and sculptures by artists of the gallery such as Mary Cassatt, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, and Pablo Picasso, which make for an impressive collection of original archival material.
The Paul Ferdinand Gachet and Paul Louis Gachet Papers consists of personal records and research material documenting the art collection of Dr. Paul Ferdinand Gachet, mostly compiled by his son Paul Louis. Other noteworthy aspects include the Catalogue raisonné of Paul Ferdinand Gachet’s collection, a private edition of six volumes compiled and published by Paul Louis; albums of photographic reproductions of works made by Doctor Gachet under the pseudonym Paul Van Ryssel; letters by Emile Bernard, Paul Cézanne, or Pierre-Auguste Renoir; and elements of the Gachet library such as this collection of illustrations and engravings by Auguste André Lançon or Daniel Verge.
The Eugène Murer Papers document the life and work of the French pastry chef who was also a painter, a friend and early collector of major Impressionist artists such as Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. This collection features curious pieces of ephemera such as a menu Murer designed for a dinner on the occasion of his 1898 exhibition Grand Poème de la Lumière in Nice; a 1887 issue of La Vie Moderne featuring Madame Séverine, the director of Le Cri du Peuple with a handwritten dedication to Murer; or a photograph of Gachet’s pet monkey Jack.
The Photothèque Archives consist of black and white photographs from the Wildenstein Institute’s photothèque. The Portfolio of models for hire is an unusual collection of photographs of French models from the 1940s whose sometimes assertive descriptions can be found in a handwritten notebook. The unknown owner of the studio included information such as the models’ occupation, and notes on striking features of their appearance or temperament, which could help with their placement. While most models are unknown, one of them is no other than film director René Clair.
The Archive of Ingres, Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings contains documentation assembled by Georges Wildenstein and members of the Wildenstein Institute’s research team who worked on the catalogue raisonné of the paintings of Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres from circa 1930-1956. The collection contains research dossiers on each of the 325 paintings in the catalogue raisonné, sometimes featuring original archival photographs. Other highlights include a 1900 installation view at the Musée Ingres in Montauban, Ingres’ 1849 passport, and the transcript of Julie Forestier’s manuscript describing her engagement to Ingres and the subsequent cancellation of their wedding.
The WPI is processing the following collections, which will be available to researchers in the near future. You can subscribe to the WPI newsletter or follow the WPI on social media for updates and announcements:
Bignou Gallery Records
Henry Certigny Papers
Raymond Cogniat Papers
Galerie Druet Records
Galerie de l’Elysée Records
Eugène and Jules Féral Inventories
Galerie Gérard Frères Records
Michel van Gelder Papers
Philippe Huisman Papers
Galerie Kleinberger Records
M. Knoedler & Co. Scrapbooks
Roger de Portalis Papers
Charles Sterling Papers