The aim of the Troubetzkoy Archive Project (TAP) is to establish a central database as the basis for a documented and reliable online Catalogue Raisonné, which provides complete and easily accessible information to a wide audience of experts or even art lovers. The inherent complexity of constructing a Catalogue Raisonné, combined with the vastness and relative dispersion of Troubetzkoy’s ‘oeuvre’, make the undertaking highly challenging but certainly fascinating. In any case, we see it as an overdue effort to celebrate the work of a sculpture’s genius and revive his fame.
The Catalogue Raisonné is a journey that involves the heart and the intellect. It requires all the love for the artist and passion for his work, together with scientific rigor, method in research and accuracy of information. The International Foundation for Art Research (IFAR) defines Catalogues Raisonnés as “scholarly compilations of an artist’s body of work […] critical tools for researching the provenance, attribution, and authenticity of a work of art”1 The New York Public Library describes a “catalogue raisonné [as] a comprehensive, annotated listing of all the known works of an artist either in a particular medium or all media” and provides a comprehensive list of information that should be considered, including: title and title variations, dimension, date, medium, current location, owner, provenance, exhibition history, condition, bibliography and literature, critical assessments, description of the work, signatures of the artist and a list of works attributed, lost, destroyed, and fakes2. Not all of this information is always readily available, while in specific cases different inputs may be needed, thus requiring a rigorous yet flexible approach. In essence, according to Prof. Brian Allen, one of the founding members of the International Catalogue Raisonné association (ICRA), “Catalogues Raisonnés are the building blocks of art history […] The absence of a reliably established corpus of works by a given artist inevitably leads to misattributed works continuing to be reproduced and discussed in error”3 .
The process of compiling a Catalogue Raisonné usually takes several years, considering the research, organization of information, writing, printing, and publishing. The update process, to incorporate any new discoveries or new information, can be even more complex and problematic. This is the reason why other forms of creation and diffusion are taking over from the traditional, physical Catalogue Raisonné.
Online Catalogue Raisonné
Printed catalogues are normally elaborate, illustrated publications, with a high production cost and an equivalent high consumer price, which relay information crystallized at the time of publication. The creation and printing of any updates require long intervals. Needless to say, many printed Catalogues Raisonnés must have several volumes in order to stay up to date, even if this procedure takes many years.
For this reason, in the last five years, the art world has witnessed a key shift in the study and documentation of artworks. Digital Catalogues Raisonnés have significantly gained ground as a valid alternative to printed catalogues, as they make it easier to update catalogues more rapidly and frequently and at a lower cost. Henry Moore’s online Catalogue Raisonné, for example, has announced that they will update through 2020 a section of the artist’s output.
Some online Catalogue Raisonnés require a fee to be able to access, although others are free: as an example, for Paul Cezanne’s Catalogue Raisonné you only need to register as a new user to enter the website, while the Edward Burne-Jones Catalogue Raisonné, which went live in August 2020, does not even require registered users. In the majority of cases, all you need is your laptop.
Moreover, high resolution images are usually a concern, as they are among the elements that cost the most when publishing a printed Catalogue Raisonné. Uploading a high-resolution image on an online data management system would be a win-win: it does not have an associated cost and the quality of the image on a screen is sharper and could potentially provide the option of close-ups on specific details.
All this makes an online Catalogue Raisonné more accessible for professional users and other viewers.
Sources, guidance, aims
The Troubetzkoy Archive Project benefits from a primary and proprietary source represented by the extensive archive of John Grioni, the Italian scholar who dedicated fifty years of his life to an unpublished study of the works of Paul Troubetzkoy. Furthermore, since its inception in 2019, the project takes advantage of a close collaboration with the Museo del Paesaggio of Verbania (on the Lake Maggiore in Italy, where the artist was born) which holds about 340 of Troubetzkoy’s works, and will also benefit from contact with other museums and collectors who hold or have held the artist’s works.
The Troubetzkoy Archive Project will be managed by an internal team coordinated by James Drake and Giulia Suardi, and guided by an advisory board, chaired by Alexander Kader FSA, Co-Worldwide Head of European Sculpture and Works of Art, Sotheby’s, London. Other board members include Federica Rabai and Stefano Martinella from Verbania, Anne-Lise Desmas from the Getty Museum and other acknowledged experts on Troubetzkoy, who will ensure constant support and scientific rigor to the project.
All in all, the Troubetzkoy Archive Project TAP is committed to delivering an online Catalogue Raisonné, resulting from a research of all available sources, with clear elements supporting the provenance of the complete corpus of Paul Troubetzkoy’s works. This will be offered for consultation to academics, auction houses and art galleries, dealers, collectors and any other beholder interested in the artist’s works. Thanks to the online mode, we are determined to give each user easy access, great image quality, more timely updates, at more acceptable overall costs for the entire chain from production to final use. All this, with the genuine hope of bringing the personality and work of a great artist again to the fore.
 ICRA, Why Have a Catalogue Raisonné?, https://icra.art/about/catalogue-raisonne/why-have-a-catalogue-raisonne
 IFAR, Users Guide, https://www.ifar.org/users_guide.php.
 New York Public Library, What is a Catalogue Raisonné?, https://www.nypl.org/about/divisions/wallach-division/art-architecture-collection/catalogue-raisonne
International Catalogue Raisonné Association, www.icra.art, accessed 30 November 2020.
International Foundation for Art Research (IFAR), www.ifar.org, accessed 30 November 2020.
New York Public Library, www.nypl.org, accessed 30 November 2020.