German Sales. Primary Market:
Gallery publications in German-speaking regions (1871–1949)


This is the first research project to focus on the overall development of the gallery sector in German-speaking regions. The aim is to create access to source material about the trade with early modernist works that is needed for provenance research.

Galleries for contemporary art emerged in the nineteenth century. Their sales of paintings, sculptures and prints fresh out of the studio gave rise to a decidedly present-oriented market for new art, known as the primary market. Catalogues, brochures and leaflets are often the only surviving sources generated by the art trade. These publications are spread around numerous sites, which makes them difficult to reach for researchers.

The DFG project “German Sales. Primary Market: Gallery publications in German-speaking regions (1871–1949)” responds to this need. It is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and is being conducted in collaboration with Heidelberg University Library (UB). The project will expand the digital content brought together under “German Sales”. Find out more

The first step is to digitise about 3,000 gallery publications with full-text search functions and make them available through the open access platform hosted by UB Heidelberg. Meanwhile the Berlinische Galerie will supply data for the information system “German Sales Institutions” (GSI) about the history of some 600 art dealerships which issued publications. In-depth entries are so far being prepared on 130 galleries documented in Berlin between 1871 and 1949.

The project will also contribute to advancing an object-oriented understanding of art market research focussing not only on the history of individuals and commercial operations, but above all on the artworks themselves and their archival sources.


Julia Bärnighausen, M.A.

Academic Researcher

Christiane Necker, M.A.

Archivist for Provenance research

Dr. Wolfgang Schöddert

Provenance Research

Supported by

In Collaboration with