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Frits Lugt (1884-1970)
Frits Lugt was both an art collector and an eminent scholar. He received his early training at the well known Amsterdam auction house of Frederik Muller (1911-1915). After leaving the auction house he started publishing. He compiled catalogues on Dutch and Flemish drawings of the Louvre, the Bibliothèque National and the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. In 1921, Lugt published Les marques de collections des dessins et de stamps, an invaluable reference work presenting marks of collectors and their biographies. [ Fondation Custodia has published in 2010 an open access database based on this reference work at www.marquesdecollections.fr].

During his time at the auction house of Frederik Muller, Lugt's main occupation was compiling auction catalogues. This may have been the reason why he later put together the Répertoire des catalogues de ventes publiques intéressant l'art ou la curiosité, a finding aid for art sales catalogues from the period 1600 to 1925. This immense work in 4 volumes appeared between 1938 and 1987 (volume 4 appeared after his death). It lists more than 100.000 auction catalogues. The basis for this index was his own collection of auction catalogues which he later donated to the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie/Netherlands Institute for Art History RKD in the Hague.

Lugt collected an impressive number of paintings, drawings, and prints during his lifetime. After the death of his father-in-law in 1931, his wife inherited a fortune which gave them the opportunity to expand their collecting activities.

Frits Lugt founded the Fondation Custodia (1947) and the Institut Néerlandais (1957) in Paris. The Fondation Custodia still houses Lugt's art collection.
Frits Lugt
   Frits Lugt, Self-portrait, 1901
   Fondation Custodia / Collection Frits Lugt,
   Paris


The Répertoire

For some decades now, the Répertoire des Catalogues de Ventes Publiques by Frits Lugt has been one of the most widely consulted art historical reference works. In four volumes covering the period 1600 to 1925, Lugt lists more than 100,000 art sales catalogues from libraries in Europe and the USA. He not only describes the collections of the larger libraries, such as the Paris Bibliothèque de l'Art et de l'Arché, but also catalogues the contents of minor collections. In the Répertoire, all catalogues are arranged in strict chronological order, giving date, place, order or provenance of each property, type of sale (whether pictures, prints or objets d'art), number of lots, auctioneer, library in which the catalogue may be consulted and details of any annotations in the catalogue described (prices, names, additions, remarks).

Volume one of the Répertoire was printed in 300 copies only. Volume 2 and 3 also had relatively small print runs. These volumes are now highly sought after, and very expensive to buy through antiquarian sources.

Original introductions

Volume 1
The original printed edition of Lugt's Répertoire Volume 1, contains a preface from 1937 by the former director of the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie/Netherlands Institute for Art History RKD, Dr. H. Schneider. This edition also contains an introduction and an instruction for users ("Observation Pratiques") by Frits Lugt. The full text of these introductory writings, in French, can be downloaded below.

PDF Introduction Volume 1


Volume 2
The original printed edition of Lugt's Répertoire Volume 2 (The Hague 1953), contains an introduction and an instruction for users ("Observation Pratiques") by Frits Lugt. The full text of these introductory writings, in French, can be downloaded below.

PDF Introduction Volume 2


Volume 3
The original printed edition of Lugt's Répertoire Volume 3 (The Hague 1964), contains an introduction and an instruction for users ("Observation Pratiques") by Frits Lugt. The full text of these introductory writings, in French, can be downloaded below.

PDF Introduction Volume 3


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