The images in the Photoarchive are accompanied by extensive documentation about the work of art, gathered as much from unpublished scholars' observations and opinions as from conventional published sources. Basic information such as dimensions, medium, and support is supplemented by former and current attributions, title history, exhibition record, and color and condition notes. Past and current owners have also provided the Library with information about portrait subjects and provenance. These essential data for object-based research offer valuable primary source material that the Library continues to update.
The extensive provenance information included in the documentation is uniquely valuable for scholars, students, and art market professionals. Used in conjunction with the Library's other resources, it has facilitated the restitution of lost or stolen works of art in many international cases.
One illustrative example is Gustav Klimt's Portrait of a Lady ("Damenbildnis en face"), which had been confiscated from Bernhard Altmann by the German National Socialists in 1938. Documentation recorded in the Photoarchive was instrumental to the successful restitution of the painting to the Altmann heirs.
See provenance research for more information.