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state library of queensland

Art databases

By Amanda Ladds, Librarian, Information and Client Services | 3 November 2020

Series: Our favourite State Library eresources.

People often ask us what our most loved eresources are. Admittedly we all have a favourite, or two, or three. It’s hard to pick as there are so many wonderful State Library eresources available. In this series our Librarians and Library Technicians share with you their most favourite eresources and how they’ve been used to solve research queries.

Next in the series we look at the following art databases, favourites of Librarian Amanda.

So why are our art databases so fabulous?

These databases provide detailed information on Australian artists, their artworks and sales records. They are invaluable tools in researching the value of artworks or finding out more about an artist and their works.

Best of all, you can access most of these art databases online from home with your free State Library membership

Research your art.

Art can be such a mystery to some - you never know when you’ve found something special.

You might have an Australian masterpiece hanging on your wall, or you have located a signature or mark on an Australian landscape painting hiding in Grandad’s garage and want to know who the artist is. You may need to know the value of an artist’s work before selling a long-hidden piece.

Whether you found it in the garage, in the op-shop or it’s been hanging on your wall for years, State Library of Queensland's art databases can help you discover more about that piece you’ve been wondering about. You may want to do your research before you accidentally throw out a Conrad Marten sketch. 

Where do you start?

The good news is, with your library membership, State Library has the necessary research tools to help you determine and identify if you have a valuable work, and the best place to start is with the art databases.

State Library provides access to the following set of art databases that are specific to Australian artists.

These databases contain material that is not available anywhere else in One Search.

How do you find the Visual Art Databases?

At the top of our One Search catalogue page, choose Eresources (databases), or you can search by title via One Search.

One Search catalogue search box

Australian Art Sales Digest

Image of front page of Australian Art Sales Digest database

Image from Australian Art Sales Digest. State Library of Queensland.

The Australian Art Sales Digest is a database of over 420,000 works by more than 12,100 artists who have either lived or worked in Australia or New Zealand and have had work offered for sale by auction in Australia and New Zealand over the last 30 years. Covering the period from the 1970s to the present day, it includes over 700,000 lots offered at auction during that period, as well as market statistics, news and opinion pieces.

This resource allows you to:

  • search individual artists who have lived or worked in Australia or New Zealand and have had works offered for sale 
  • do an advanced search that will find artists and their works who have lived or worked in a country other than Australia or New Zealand, or where the country of the artist is unknown
  • view current and historical auction prices and details of forthcoming auctions
  • search directories for galleries, auction houses and art consultants
  • view works listed for an artist
  • find auction prices and images if available
  • view a list of all works in past sales and forthcoming sales
  • display lots with images
  • view total turnover for an artist by year
  • find where to buy or sell art works by the artist
  • discover commercial galleries that usually stock work by and/or represent this artist
  • see auction houses that have sold works by this artist
  • view sample signatures for an artist
  • find works by an artist held in public galleries
  • learn more about an artist and where the artist is listed in standard biographical references 
  • keep up with the latest news and opinions from the art world

In addition, through this database you can make a request for a valuation to find out the market value of an artwork or obtain a pre-purchase report on an artwork you are considering purchasing. The art market experts, who are approved valuers for the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program, will provide you with a quick and professional assessment of the artwork.

Australian Art Auction Records

Image of front page of Australian Art Auction Records database.

Image from Australian Art Auction Records. State Library of Queensland.

Australian Art Auction Records documents historical art auction results. It is the largest and most extensive database of Australian and New Zealand paintings sold at auction.

The database includes art auction sale results from the early 1970s to the present time. In total, the site includes sales results for over 438,000 works by more than 19,000 artists.

The database includes sale results for Australian and New Zealand artists, and artists who have painted in either country during their careers.

Emerging artists, who have not entered works into an auction, are not included in this database.

This resource allows you to:

  • search for an artist by entering the first four letters of the artist's last name or by browsing alphabetical list of artists
  • view sales results for Australian and New Zealand artists, and artists who have painted in either country during their careers
  • see results from all specialised art auction sales, and some mixed lot sales in Australia and New Zealand, and sales in London and Paris that include works by Australian and New Zealand artists
  • view sales results for most sales from 1969 onwards
  • access images of work where available

This service is informational only and does not appraise or value artwork or give investment advice.

It is best practice to consult both databases for a more comprehensive coverage of the art auctions in Australia.


Welcome screen of ArtBiogs database

Image from ArtBiogs. State Library of Queensland.

Ozbiogs Discovery Media is now ArtBiogs and is available onsite at State Library.

In addition to the details of thousands of art exhibitions for Australian artists, are exhibition catalogues, exhibition prizes, First Nations Prizes and exhibitions and NATSIVAD (National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Visual Artists Database).  Information included in these databases is frequently updated with both current and historic exhibitions.

NATSIVAD. (National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Visual Artists Database)

NATSIVAD database

Screenshot from NATSIVAD search. State Library of Queensland.

NATSIVAD (AVAD) contains information on more than 1,500 Australian Indigenous visual artists, including biographical details of the artists and some bibliographical references on them and their work. The database is a component of the ArtBiogs database, but can be searched separately.

The database has been developed by researchers for AIATSIS (the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies).  The main purpose of the database is to assist the promotion and marketing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and to further education and research.  It is published electronically by Discovery Media, and has added features such as a Google map of Aboriginal Art Centres. It also includes cultural information.

Tips for searching artists and art works

  • Start your search for your artist in State Library’s One Search catalogue
  • Search for books and exhibition catalogues featuring the work or the artist 
  • Search the ephemera collections for both gallery and artist
  • Don’t overlook the artist files kept on Level 4 of State Library in the Australian Library of Art 
  • This collection includes exhibition invitations, lists of artistic works, small catalogues, brochures, notices, publicity material, media releases and marketing material highlighting exhibitions and events associated with the artist.

Join now and start searching art databases.


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