John Michael Montias (1928-2005) was a scholar who was for a great part responsible for enlarging the scope of the study of Dutch art with an economic dimension in the last decades. For his book Art at auction in 17th-century Amsterdam, Montias did extensive research in the Amsterdam city archives, where he recorded information from over 1200 inventories between 1597-1681. This wealth of information on collecting in Amsterdam in the seventeenth century is now available online through the Frick Collection website, together with yet another electronic resource: the Archives Directory for the History of Collecting in America.
Information from the Frick Collection and Art Reference Library, 13 January 2010
This rich database drawn from documents in the Amsterdam City Archives provides detailed information on ownership of works of art in the Dutch Golden Age. Compiled by late Yale University Professor John Michael Montias, it contains information from 1,280 inventories of goods (paintings, prints, sculpture, furniture, etc.) owned by people living in 17th century Amsterdam. Drawn from the Gemeentearchief (now known as the Stadsarchief), the actual dates of the inventories range from 1597-1681. Nearly half of the inventories were made by the Orphan Chamber for auction purposes, while almost as many were notarial death inventories for estate purposes. The remainder were bankruptcy inventories. The database includes detailed information on the 51,071 individual works of art listed in the inventories. Searches may be performed on specific artists, types of objects (painting, prints, drawings), subject matter etc. There is also extensive information on the owners, as well as on buyers and prices paid when the goods were actually in a sale. While not a complete record of all inventories in Amsterdam during this time period, the database contains a wealth of information that can elucidate patterns of buying, selling, inventorying and collecting art in Holland during the Dutch Golden Age.
The portrait of Nicolaes Ruts is mentioned in the inventory of Susanna Ruts from 1636
The Directory is a pioneering resource created by the Center of the History of Collecting in America. Its purpose is to help researchers locate primary source material about American collectors, dealers, agents and advisors, and the repositories that hold these records. Archives related to American collectors of the fine and decorative arts, including antiquities and non-Western art are included. The Directory serves an international community of museum, academic and other art professionals, most notably those seeking to chronicle the history of collecting in America. Each record provides information about specific archival collections, their location, content when available, links, and contact information. The periods of collecting activity covered by the Directory depends upon the existence of subject archives and the availability of information. The database is a work in progress that is regularly updated with information contributed by both institutions and individuals.