Catalogues raisonnés can be concise lists (as often compiled for the works of living artists); however, they can also be thorough historical documentations (as is more appropriate for oeuvres completedsome time ago). There is no rule about how exhaustive a catalogue raisonné needs to be. However,it is necessary in all cases that catalogues raisonnés should be comprehensive, that the works shouldbe treated consistently, and that the complete oeuvre should be organised stringently.Whether the actual catalogue raisonné should be supplemented by inserting a characterisation of theoeuvre, historical texts or other elements remains within the author’s discretion and/or dependsupon the current state of research on the given sculptor.
It is absolutely necessary to include a preface introducing the criteria and underlying organisation ofthe treatment of the sculptural oeuvre. A clear synopsis should be given of recurrent idiosyncrasiesof the oeuvre and the modes of production and marketing associated with it.
Also necessary are references to the legal state of affairs, the administration of the artist’s estate, andthe nature and extent of posthumous casting.
2. Scope and sequential order
All sculptural works by the sculptor must be included, that is to say, even works which have beendestroyed, lost without trace or are not attested pictorially but are known to have existed or beenmade. The specific rules applied must be stated in the preface.It is inadvisable to mixed sculptural and graphic works. Different genres are normally listed separatelyin catalogues raisonnés. However, this does not hold true for artists who worked in mixed media; aspecific solution needs to be found in such cases.
Structure of the catalogue numbers
All catalogue numbers must be structured according to the same scheme; for example: titles, dating,material and technique, dimensions, signature and other identifying markings, whereabouts, andliterature. The scheme must make sense for the given sculptor’s oeuvre; the adoption of a differentorder of elements may well be advisable.
A chronological order is essential for a catalogue raisonné. Arranging the oeuvre as a whole inchronological order is highly recommended.
Another approach used is to organise the list in terms of groups of works or types of commission (statues, portraits, reliefs…; humans, animals…; free works, architectural sculptures, monuments,tombstones…). There is less to recommend such organisational approaches since they do not clearlyshow the overall progression of the oeuvre.
If the decision is made to use subgroups nonetheless, each of these needs to be developedchronologically. Organisational systems alien to art (such as grouping animal figures in terms ofanimal species, for example) should be avoided.
The sequence of works must be numbered from start to finish. Each new work (i.e. not each newcast) is assigned its own number.
One possibility is a simple series of sequential numbers; but the use of subgroups can also makesense. Arabic and Roman numerals or letters may be used and/or combined. This is advisable ifvariants or torsoed versions are interpreted as derivative rather than independent works. It is alsorecommended to group pendants or elements belonging to groups with one another.
Multiple casts, too, can be identified individually and listed under the top-level catalogue number. Foreditions of identical items this is not absolutely necessary, however. Usually an unnumbered list ofthe copies that can be attested is sufficient. Catalogues raisonnés of living sculptors’ works oftenmention only the actual or intended size of the edition.
Overall, the numbering must be uniform, consistent and comprehensible.
When works exist with varying mountings (e.g. with different plinth forms), these must be mentionedand listed either as a subcategory or as separate catalogue-raisonné numbers.
If fakes of a particular work can be attested, it is necessary to remark upon it. Fakes should not be given a catalogue raisonné number, however. (False attributions can be dealtwith in the Appendix.)
The historically attested titles (with the exception of obviously wrong information) should be listed. One title should be selected as the main title. In the preface it must be stated whether the titleswere originated by the artist himself or were assigned retrospectively.
In view of the chronological structure of catalogues raisonnés, dating is particularly significant. Commonly accepted datings must be checked, and corrected if need be. When a correction isnecessary, a rationale must be provided.
When an artist works on sculptures over a longer period, it is recommended that the dating shouldrefer to the complete period of time (e.g. 1907-09).
For works which were recommenced after an interruption or were subsequently modified, it isrecommended to give both the date of the initial condition and that of the reworking (e.g. 1907/09).
For bronzes, the critical date for sequential ordering into the catalogue raisonné is the creation dateof the casting model. If possible, the year in which the cast was made or the period of time duringwhich an edition was made should be mentioned additionally – but separately from the dating of theartist’s original creation. This is especially necessary when the first cast was only produced someconsiderable time after the sculptural invention (e.g. plaster model 1951, bronze cast 1984; for anedition e.g. 1951, bronze casts 1984-2001).
It is absolutely necessary to identify works that were only cast posthumously; the point of interest iswhether such casts had been the artist’s own intention. The size of the complete sculptural oeuvre atthe time of the sculptor’s death must be discernible from the catalogue raisonné.
The basis relied upon for dating the works should be stated in the preface (e.g. datings on the workitself, notes by the artist, foundry documentation, references in exhibition catalogues orcontemporary publications, etc.).
6. Material and technique
Material and technique belong together and should be stated together (e.g. bronze – lost-waxtechnique;iron – assemblage, welding technique).
When types of stone and wood are specified, caution should be exercised; this is an area where arthistorians frequently lack sufficient expertise. Materials like cast stone, cast cement, stucco and thelike should be explained. Details from historical catalogues must not be transferred withoutverification. For example, cast stone was often referred to as stone; catalogues sometimes say“marble”, although only the “plaster model for the marble” was exhibited. Often, reddish stuccocasts and painted plasters are wrongly identified as terracottas.
If the sculptor used new and unusual materials and production techniques or even developed hisown, an annotation is necessary.
For bronze casts, the patination can be mentioned, although this is not advisable for larger editions. Itmakes sense to deal with the nature of the patination synoptically in the preface.
The most important dimension is the height, which includes the plinth belonging to the sculpture but not a pedestal made from different material. Often it is unhelpful to include breadth and depthdimensions for sculptures in the round, namely when the sculptures have no obvious frontal line. Forworks whose breadth (or depth) exceeds their height, the breadth (or depth) should also be stated,otherwise the information could confuse the reader. For reliefs, the height and breadth should bestated.
It only makes sense to mention the pedestal dimensions in rare cases when the pedestal belongs tothe composition and identical dimensions are maintained for the whole edition. Information about the weight is not helpful (and would only make sense if a large number ofcomparison values were available and, furthermore, if knowledge about the specific weight of thematerials used could be presupposed.)
8. Identifying markings
Signature, numberings, foundry stamps, etc. should be listed as as possible (including details of where they are positioned on the work). It should be borne in mind, however, that editions can have differences in stamping and in the application of signatures, and it is virtually impossible to examine every item when casts were made in large numbers.
The information in the catalogue raisonné must make it clear which specific cast in an edition bears this or that particular marking. The preface must include some general remarks on whether and how the artist signed and numbered works, which foundries he used, and how these marked their casts. Illustrations (photographs or tracings) of the signatures and foundry stamps used are useful.
9. Model and execution
Bronzes, along with casts and mouldings in other materials, are normally based on plaster models. For most sculptors, these are not works in their own right but just the model for the bronze cast. In that case, the plaster and the bronze can be listed under one catalogue number. The source attesting to the existence or non-preservation of the plaster model should be cited.
For sculptural oeuvres in which the plaster models can be appraised as the actual originals, this must be recognised – consistently – throughout the catalogue raisonné. If works have not been executed in bronze or in another “final” material, then the plaster version constitutes the final version and appears in the sequence of works with its own number. If the plaster models are used for execution in wood or stone, then marked differences can occur in the surface treatment and often also in the format or the plinth solution. Models exhibiting such variations, if they have been preserved or can be attested from pictorial or documentary sources, should be included in the sequence of works.
The size of the edition should be stated as precisely as possible. From the preface it should be possible to ascertain what sizes of edition occur with this artist, whether and how he used numbering, and whether and how he kept written records of casts in his papers. If there were no firm rules, the sources relied upon for the information about edition sizes must be made clear (e.g. foundry bills or, for example, the number of casts that can be attested today). If no evidence-based statement about the edition size is possible, then this must be made clear.
11. Whereabouts and provenances
It is desirable to cite all current locations of all individual works, if possible, and to provide detailed provenances. If the passage of a sculptural work from its first to its current owner is to be traced, then this must be done chronologically. (Of course its movement can also be presented in reverse, from the last to the earliest owner.)
Of course, one ought not to labour under the delusion that it is always possible to establish complete provenances. Particularly for works that have been produced in larger editions, instances of confusion, transposition or duplication can occur. Therefore, uncertainties ought not to be hidden but must be disclosed. An additional problem is that private owners do not normally wish to be named, and for this reason provenances in private ownership tend to be difficult to trace back. It makes sense, however, to mention historical private collections – especially famous ones. Often works can only be traced through the art trade, particularly through auction catalogues. A system needs to be found for the citation of such sources.
For every work all, or at least the major, bibliographical references are to be cited. It is acceptable to omit coffee-table books, virtually unchanged second editions, and newspaper articles. All major exhibitions should be cited (all exhibitions in the artist’s lifetime and all subsequent exhibitions of any significance). It can make sense, however, to curtail citations of literature or exhibitions considerably, in which case the criteria used must be stated. One issue to bear in mind is that when sculptures come from an edition, it is frequently impossible to verify which individual piece was discussed and illustrated in the literature or shown in exhibitions.
For historical photographs, which are important because they show the works as the artist wished, it is often unclear which item from an edition is depicted. Even in exhibition catalogues, sometimes the item depicted is not the one actually exhibited but a different one for which a photo happened to be available. It is desirable for sculptural objects to be presented photographically from several viewpoints. This is especially necessary when sculptures have no obvious viewing side.
13. Art-historical contextualisation
Older catalogues raisonnés often confine themselves to statements of the facts – as outlined above. More recently, each catalogue number is expected to be accompanied by an art-historical contextualisation: a coherent text which sets forth the status of the given work. This is where everything that cannot be described in the standardised listing commonly used for catalogues raisonnés is presented. The author is relatively free in the organisation of this element and in the choice of themes. (Nevertheless, here once again, a recurring structure is recommended for the framing of these texts.)
The following aspects may be included:
-preliminary drawings or sculptural models
-anything special about the work’s inception
-terms of the commission
-anything special about the later handling of the artwork
-for portraits: biographical information about the subject
-for architectural sculptures: presentation of the building and its architect
-status within the artist’s complete oeuvre
An artist’s curriculum vitae is absolutely necessary to underpin the chronology of the oeuvre.
An alphabetically arranged (by author) bibliography is recommended. Chronological literature lists are more difficult to handle, although they can give a good insight into the resonance of a given artist’s work over time. Organising the bibliography according to groups of like texts (monographs, essays, catalogues, etc.) may make it accessible; for abbreviated citations under the individual catalogue numbers, however, a multi-section bibliography is impracticable.
List of sources
Whether it is necessary to list the archives consulted is something that the author must decide. Often it is sufficient to cite the consulted source under the relevant catalogue number, in an annotation, for instance.
References must always be provided for any pictures used, and the rights of artists or of their heirs, and possibly of owners (archives, picture agencies) and of photographers must be acknowledged.
If older catalogues raisonnés, inventories of collections or extensive monographs exist, they can be cross-referenced with the new numbering scheme.
Table of abbreviations
If abbreviations go beyond the commonplace, a table of abbreviations is necessary.
It is only necessary to include an explanation of the technical terms used if these are extremely specialised. Fundamental issues can be mentioned in the preface.
Experience has shown that the publication of a catalogue raisonné does not bring the process of researching the artist’s oeuvre to a definitive conclusion. The very attention generated by a new publication brings to light new facts and previously unknown works or versions. The author should therefore continue to gather such information. It would make sense if regular updates could be issued, in print or on the Internet. Presumably the purchaser of a catalogue raisonné would be interested in subscribing to such updates.
Arbeitsgruppe Werkverzeichnis der AG Bildhauermuseen – Catalogue raisonné working group of the German working group for sculptor museums (Astrid v. Asten, Ursel Berger, Josephine Gabler, Arie Hartog)