The Montias Database of 17th Century Dutch Art Inventories


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painting of man wearhing hat holidng piece of paper

Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, Nicolaes Ruts, 1631, oil on mahogany panel, 46 in. x 34 3/8 in. Purchased by The Frick Collection, 1943.
(see the inventory)

The Montias database, compiled by late Yale University Professor John Michael Montias, contains information from 1,280 inventories of goods (paintings, prints, sculpture, furniture, etc.) owned by people living in 17th century Amsterdam. Drawn from the Gemeentearchief (now known as the Stadsarchief), the actual dates of the inventories range from 1597-1681. Nearly half of the inventories were made by the Orphan Chamber for auction purposes, while almost as many were notarial death inventories for estate purposes. The remainder were bankruptcy inventories. The database includes detailed information on the 51,071 individual works of art listed in the inventories. Searches may be performed on specific artists, types of objects (painting, prints, drawings), subject matter etc. There is also extensive information on the owners, as well as on buyers and prices paid when the goods were actually in a sale. While not a complete record of all inventories in Amsterdam during this time period, the database contains a wealth of information that can elucidate patterns of buying, selling, inventorying and collecting art in Holland during the Dutch Golden Age.

History of the Database

John Michael Montias began recording details of ownership of works of art from the Gemeentearchief (municipal archive) in Amsterdam in the early 1980s as part of his own work on the prices of Dutch paintings at Amsterdam auctions in the seventeenth century. In 1986, he was given a grant by the Getty Art History Information Program (now the Getty Research Institute) to work in conjunction with its Provenance Index. He was one of the earliest contributors to the Index, which had been established only a few years earlier, and eventually gave them information from over 300 inventories. After he left the Getty, he continued inputting the material on his own and added data from nearly 1000 more, all of which he gave to the Frick Art Reference Library to host. The Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie also serves as a co-sponsor.