Provenance Research

Oskar Kokoschka (1886-1980)
Duchess of Montesquiou-Fezensac, 1910
Oil on canvas
37 1/4 x 19 1/4 in. (94.6 x 48.9 cm)
Bequest of Paul E. Geier, 1983.64
© 2002 Artists Right Society (ARS), ProLitteris, Zurich

Signed lower center: "OK"

Three-quarter-length frontal portrait of a woman with her face turned slightly to the left. She wears a gray dress, four rings, and a choker. Her left hand is on her hip and her right hand is at her chest.

Alternate Titles:
Bildnis der Herzogin von Montesquieu
Bildnis der Herzogin von Rohan-Montesquieu
Countess de Rohan-Montesquieu
Duchess de Rohan-Montesquieu
Duchess of Rohan
Duchesse de Montesquieu-Rohan
Eine preciöse Frau
Herzogin de Rohan-Montesquieu
Porträt der Duchesse de Montesquieu-Rohan
Portrait of the Duchess of Motesquiou-Fezensac
Portrait of the Duchess of Montesquieu-Rohan
Portrait of the Duchess of Rohan-Montesquieu
Portrait of the Duchess Rohan-Montesquieu
Victoria de Montesquiou-Fezensac
Victorie de Monesquieu-Fezensac
Victorie Massena d'essling Duchesse de Montesquiou-Fezensac


1910-1921:   Karl Ernst Osthaus [1874-1921], Folkwang Museum Hagen, by bequest to [1]
1921-1922:   Osthaus heirs, sold to
1922-1937:   Städtischen Museum Essen [later, Museum Folkwang Essen], confiscated by [1]
1937-July 30, 1939:   Nazis, sold at Galerie Fischer, Lucerne, June 30, 1939, lot 65, sold to [2]
July 30, 1939:   Steinmeyer, purchased for
July 30, 1939-1983:   Paul E. Geier [1914-1981], Cincinnati and Rome, placed on long-term loan to the Art Museum, Princeton University, 1974-1982, L151.74, by bequest to
1983-present:   Cincinnati Art Museum [4]

[1] Osthaus founded the Folkwang Museum Hagen (today the Karl Ernst Osthaus Museum) in 1902. Osthaus first saw Kokoschka's work at Paul Cassirer's gallery in Berlin in 1910, and invited the artist to have a solo show at his museum in August of that year. Duchess of Montesquiou-Fezensac was included, and afterwards Osthaus purchased it. In 1922 Osthaus' heirs sold his entire collection to what is today known as the Museum Folkwang Essen. Correspondence, November 5, 1982.

[2] In April 1937, a Nazi commission was ordered by Joseph Goebbels, Reichminister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, to remove all "degenerate" art from German public museums. "Degenerate" artworks were generally modern works that diverted from traditional means of representation through abstraction and distortion. Six months of purging resulted in the removal of approximately 17,000 artworks from German museums. Duchess of Montesquiou-Fezensac was taken by the Nazi commission from the Museum Folkwang Essen and given the inventory number 16033. It was included in the famous Nazi organized exhibition in Munich, Entartete Kunst, or the Degenerate Art Show, which exhibited over 650 of the purged artworks. The exhibition was meant to demonstrate to German citizens what was deemed unacceptable art by the Nazis. In 1939, 125 of the best works confiscated from German museums were auctioned at the Galerie Fischer in Lucerne, Switzerland. Cincinnati collector Paul E. Geier acquired the painting through a buyer at the Lucerne auction.

[3] Kokoschka was aware of Geier's ownership of the painting, as his wife, Olda, corresponded several times with Geier during the 1950s and 1960s. See letters in curatorial file.

[4] Upon acquiring the portrait, the Cincinnati Art Museum contacted the Museum Folkwang Essen on November 19, 1982, for information about its former ownership of the painting. The Museum Folkwang Essen responded on November 30, 1982, stating it was glad to know the whereabouts of the painting and offered the CAM provenance and exhibition history of the work.

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