Provenance Research

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Guidelines Criteria

During the years 1933-1945, the Nazis conducted the largest confiscation of cultural property known in history. Although a large amount of works were restored, or restituted, to their original owners after World War II, many of the works entered the art market and eventually new collections. Recently museums have placed an emphasis on researching the provenance of their objects during the years just before and during World War II to ensure that they do not house works that were looted by the Nazis and not subsequently restituted to original previous owners, their heirs, or the country from which they were taken. In 1999, the American Association of Museums issued their Guidelines Concerning the Unlawful Appropriation of Objects during the Nazi-Era. Amended in 2001, these guidelines require museums to review the provenance of works of art in their collection that may have been looted during the Nazi/World War II era, specifically European paintings and objects of Judaica made before 1946 and acquired after 1932 that could have been in Europe during those years and/or experienced a change in ownership during that time.

Criteria + Selection

In conjunction with these guidelines, the Cincinnati Art Museum began a critical review of the provenance of its European paintings. The Cincinnati Art Museum has 243 European paintings in its collection that were created before 1946 and acquired after 1932. Of these, 143 have been identified as having an incomplete provenance between 1932 and 1946. 6 paintings have fully documented ownership histories during the Nazi-era, but underwent a change of ownership in continental Europe during that time. The research presented here includes detailed provenance entries on these 149 European paintings. The inclusion of a painting on the following list does not signify that it was subject to Nazi looting; it merely identifies it as a work of art with a gap in its history of ownership between 1932 and 1946, or which underwent a change of ownership in continental Europe during those years. The Cincinnati Art Museum's curatorial staff is dedicated to this project and is in the process of reviewing all existing documents pertaining to the history of ownership of these works in the Museum's curatorial files, collector files, library, and archives. Outside archival resources, libraries, and the Internet, are also being utilized in this effort. Please note that provenance research is a long, time-consuming process, and the entries presented here will be updated as new information becomes available.