In graduate school, my art historical interests shifted once again; this time from England and France to Italy, and from the nineteenth century to the eighteenth. I decided to write my doctoral dissertation on Giovanni Battista Tiepolo’s Punchinello drawings (more on those in a future post). As I began work on the catalogue portion of my dissertation, I noticed many gaps in the provenances of most of the drawings. Having never really thought much about provenance before—but with a longstanding if unrealistic desire to become a detective—I decided to try my hand at filling in some of those gaps. Doing so would become my favorite aspect of my dissertation research. I loved combing through auction catalogues at the Frick Art Reference Library, looking for appearances of the Punchinello drawings. I loved figuring out whom the existing provenances were referring to when they included only the initials of a particular owner. And I loved hunting for the drawings whose current locations were unknown. In the end, I was able to augment the provenances for nearly all of the thirty-six drawings.
That was my introduction to provenance research. I wanted to do more of it, and so I completed several provenance research-related internships (with the International Foundation for Art Research (IFAR) and the Commission for Looted Art in Europe). My experiences there only confirmed my desire to pursue a career involving provenance research, whether general or specifically World War II-era.
So here I am today, a freelance provenance researcher/art historian. While a PhD is not required to conduct provenance research, I feel that the type of in-depth research that was essential for success in a PhD program serves me well. And I finally found a career that actually combines the two areas of work in which I had been interested for so long: detective work and art history.