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Art and Architecture: Bodleian Library Holdings

The Art, Archaeology and Ancient World Library is the premier research library for the study of art, architecture and archaeology at Oxford. It incorporates multiple libraries previously housed in separate locations around the University.

Introduction: UK Auction Houses & Art Dealers at the Bodleian Library

Holdings are extensive (albeit by no means fully comprehensive). They range from early (pre-1800) catalogues to very recent catalogues received through legal deposit. Many areas of the art market are covered -- not just paintings.

Early imprints are with Special Collections, most post-1900 imprints are housed offsite ("Closed stack").  Art auction catalogues and art dealers' catalogues held at the Bodleian Library are either individually catalogued in SOLO or group-catalogued in SOLO or not in SOLO and only located by using handlists.

Contact Information

Contact information for Special Collections at the Bodleian Library can be found here.


What is group-cataloguing?

A group-catalogued record is a very minimal level bibliographic record.  Group-cataloguing allows for boxes or runs of previously uncatalogued material to be recorded in SOLO.  The items in the boxes are not listed individually on SOLO, rather a group-catalogued record provides a title based entry which briefly describes the contents of each box.

Key Resources

To identify Oxford holdings, use SOLO.

Use keyword searching (auction house or dealer name, word/s in catalogue title) plus year.
Example: christie paintings 1996

Pre-1880 auction catalogues at the Bodleian

The Bodleian Library's holdings include some very early sales catalogues, not all of which are on SOLO.  To find early catalogues on SOLO, use keyword searching and sort your results in Date-oldest order. 


Can't find what you are looking for?

Bodleian holdings not on SOLO

In former years, many pre-1900 & early C20th auction & dealer catalogues now held at the Bodleian & Art, Archaeology and Ancient World libraries were not individually catalogued.  Instead, holdings were set out in “handlists” only.
Some of the handlists have SOLO records (see column on the right), but the catalogues listed in them may well not appear on SOLO.  If you cannot find the catalogue you are looking for, therefore, you may need to consult a handlist.

Legal Deposit Holdings

A large percentage of the Bodleian's auction and dealer catalogues arrive via legal deposit (aka the Copyright Act).

Auction catalogues:

The below auction houses deposit on a regular basis, although no sequence is necessarily complete and not every departments' catalogues are sent. 

NOTE: As more auction house records are made available online, fewer hard copy titles are arriving via legal deposit. Readers, therefore, will not necessarily find the print version of an auction catalogue on SOLO.  Please see the Auction houses online section on the Electronic resources subpage of this guide for further information.

Book Auctions


A Scene at an Oxford Book Auction
William Green Jr. Scene at an Oxford Book Auction oil on canvas 1747 (Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford)

This guide discusses the resources available for researching auctions & sales of art works, not books. Please contact Special Collections at the Bodleian Library for information related to book auctions & sales.

Auction & Dealers' Catalogues at the Bodleian Library: Selected Handlists & Related Books

Not all early imprints are on SOLO. You will need to use a variety of hard copy handlists & indexes describing Bodleian & Art, Archaeology and Ancient World holdings to locate them.

For Art, Archaeology and Ancient World Library holdings please see the Art, Archaeology and Ancient World Library holdings: auction catalogues and Art, Archaeology and Ancient World Library holdings: art dealers' catalogues subpages.