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What is Provenance?

Every work of art carries with it not only the history of its creator, but of its owners as well. Provenance—the record of ownership for a work of art—provides important documentation explaining who, at various points in history, owned the painting, sculpture or artifact at hand. This is an especially important issue for museums, who pay careful attention to provenance to confirm the authenticity of a work of art and its rightful ownership.

Provenance can be difficult to determine. The information presented here is intended to be a teaching tool for those interested in provenance research, specifically how to read it and what to look out for in terms of periods and areas of added scrutiny. Beyond introducing readers to the subject, the page also aims to be the new home for information about the Toledo Museum of Art’s recently acquired works of art, especially those that require additional provenance research. The Museum welcomes any information from the public that may help close gaps or provide further information into the history of an object’s ownership.

The Museum has been proactive in resolving ownership claims, as outlined in the Repatriation section below, and is currently researching other objects. Information on all of these cases is provided here and will be updated with new developments. Public input and additional information are welcome.

The Toledo Museum of Art’s investigations are ongoing and include new acquisitions. If you have any questions or information about the works in the Toledo Museum of Art’s collection, please feel free to contact us at:

The Toledo Museum of Art
Box 1013
Toledo, Ohio 43697