WWII Provenance

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The Toledo Museum of Art Provenance Research Project

Ownership of European Paintings (1933–1945)

We have intensified our investigation of acquisitions of European art from 1933 to the present day, placing particular emphasis on work that might have an incomplete provenance (history of ownership)

Since its inauguration in 1901, the Toledo Museum of Art has actively exhibited, researched, and published works of art in its collection in order to make them widely available to the general public and to scholars. We have intensified our investigation of acquisitions of European art from 1933 to the present day, placing particular emphasis on work that might have an incomplete provenance (history of ownership), notably works that could possibly have been stolen or coercively transferred during the Nazi era and WWII (1933–1945).

In January 1999 the American Association of Museums (AAM) board of directors and the AAM/International Council of Museums board (ICOM) formed a joint working group to study issues of cultural property. They produced a series of guidelines to assist museums in addressing the problems of objects that were unlawfully appropriated during the Nazi era without subsequent restitution. We are following the research steps with regard to existing collections as outlined in “Guidelines Concerning the Unlawful Appropriation of Objects During the Nazi Era” (3.a-h), published by the AAM in the March/April 2000 issue of Museum News (vol. 70, no. 2). The text of the document is available on the AAM website here.

The Nazi-Era Provenance Internet Portal (http://www.nepip.org) has been developed by the AAM to provide to the public information from museums with collections that have gaps in provenance between 1933 and 1945.

The Toledo Museum of Art abides by the Code of Ethics of the AAM which states that the “stewardship of collections entails the highest public trust and carries with it the presumption of rightful ownership, permanence, care, documentation, accessibility, and responsible disposal.”

In spite of ongoing scholarly research, the full succession of ownership of a work of art may not always be known. For those paintings in the collection of the Toledo Museum of Art where there may be a gap between known owners, we have developed a searchable electronic list that will facilitate research into the history of their ownership. The list does not include works acquired before 1933 or created after 1945.

Of this list, paintings that were in European collections, for any or all of the period between 1933 and 1946, or whose provenance is uncertain, were referred to the Art Loss Register (http://www.artloss.com)—an organization that has developed the world’s largest commercial database of stolen and missing art. The Art Loss Register has checked the description and known provenance of each of these works against any private claims, and against published inventories of looted or forcibly transferred works of art. At present, no TMA paintings match those listed as looted or forcibly transferred in the following catalogues:

  • Die Verlorene Gemäldegalerie des Kaiser Friedrich Museums Magdeburg
  • Staatliche Museen zu Berlin Preussischer Kulturbesitz-Vol.I (Gemäldegalerie)
  • Dokumentation der durch Auslagerung im 2. Weltkrieg vermissten Kunstwerke der Kunsthalle Bremen
  • Verlorene Werke der Malerei in Deutschland in der Zeit von 1939-1945
  • Vermisste Zeichnungen des Kupferstich Kabinettes Dresden
  • Catalogue of Works of Western European Painters Lost During the Second World War from the Ukraine State Tretyakovskaya Gallery and State Russian Museum
  • Répertoire des biens spoliés en France durant la geurre 1939-1945 (published 1947)
  • Collection Alphonse Schloss
  • Missing Art Works of Belgium – Vol. I
  • Missing Art Works of Belgium – Vol. II
  • Treasures Untraced – An Inventory of the Italian Art Treasures Lost During the Second World War
  • Wartime Losses – Polish Paintings Lost Between 1939 & 1945 Within Post 1945 Borders of Poland
  • European Dispersed Heritage (Gdansk)
  • Sacco di Budapest – Depredation of Hungary 1938-1949

The Toledo Museum of Art’s investigations are ongoing and include new acquisitions. The information included in our online Provenance Research Project document will be updated periodically. If you have any questions or information about the works in the Toledo Museum of Art’s collection, please feel free to contact us in writing at:

Provenance Research Project
The Toledo Museum of Art
Box 1013
Toledo, Ohio 43697
E-mail: provenance@toledomuseum.org

The Provenance Research Report is provided below.

Provenance Research lowres