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Changelog of Provenance updates

This article documents changes of the provenance rendering made as part of the release of June 23, 2023. Read below what has been changed.

We created the automatic provenance rendering to help apply a universal language to provenance descriptions. It’s a popular feature, and our users have sent us suggestions for how to make it even better. We listened and adjusted many of the transaction types to ensure the consistency of the wording. A new provenance type for restitutions now exists to clearly distinguish these cases from other types of returns. Below, you can see an overview of all the changes.

Please be aware that published catalogues are not affected by the wording changes. To adapt your public records to the changes, you can review and re-publish the artwork entries.

Overview of provenance changes

The wording consistency relates to the type of transaction. We distinguish two groups of transactions for provenance events:

Ownership events describe the change of legal owner. Statements for this type of transaction always begin with naming the owner first, then follows the description of the transaction details

Possession events describe a change in possession, while the previous owner remains unchanged. Since the event always relates to another ownership event, the wording of possession events focusses on the transaction first and then names the involved receiver afterwards.

Provenance type What has changed? Example
Bequest The transaction type "bequest" also works if only a receiver is given Receiver, bequest
Commissioned The type commissioned describes a transaction where an artwork is transferred from the artist. Therefore, a transaction source is not needed and will no longer be displayed. Instead, "from the artist" is automatically added to the rendering.  Receiver, commissioned from the artist

This transaction was changed to an ownership event. Additionally the wording order was changed to highlight the confiscation first, then naming the receiver.

Confiscated by Receiver
Consigned Because a consignment describes a temporary change of possession, the wording of the rendering has been adjusted begin with the transaction statement.


On consignment with Receiver

Destroyed If a date is added to this transaction it is included in the rendering. Destroyed (Date)
Donation The transaction type "donation" also works if only a receiver is given. Receiver, donation
Forced Sale The wording now explicitly names this transaction as a forced sale and highlights it at the beginning of the provenance line.


Forced sale to Receiver

Fractional Gift If a source is given, the following line is shown indented.


Fractional gift to Receiver

Inherited The transaction type "inherited" also works if only a receiver is given. Receiver, inherited
Location unknown  The type of this transaction has been changed from possession to ownership. Location unknown
Restitution Restitution has been added as a new transaction type. Restitution refers to the return of unlawfully acquired artwork or cultural property to its rightful owners or place of origin.


Receiver, restituted

Return The wording was changed to begin with the transaction description and then naming the receiver. 


Returned to Receiver

Stolen A receiver can be added to this transaction type. The mention of "from above" has been removed.


Stolen by Receiver

Transfer The transaction type "transfer" also works if only a receiver is given Receiver, transfer


Last updated: July 7, 2023