Museum Home Museum Research and Conservation Research on Museum Collection Provenance, 1933-45

Overview

The J. Paul Getty Museum is committed to making available its research on the provenance (history of ownership) of works in its collection. We have published this research in collection catalogues and other publications for many years; the Internet provides another powerful method of distribution.

Our ongoing research in this area is incorporated into object records in the Museum's collection pages. Through the Advanced Search function of the Museum Collection Search page, users of this site can search collection records on a number of terms, including provenance-related names.

Provenance research has always been and continues to be a central and often laborious activity of the staff, as it is at most art museums. It serves many purposes, sometimes helping to substantiate an attribution and at all times aiding curators, educators, and scholars to understand the history of collecting and taste.

Reconstruction of a complete history of ownership for a given work can be difficult and sometimes impossible. Many records of ownership have been destroyed as a result of natural disasters, man-made disasters such as war, and neglect. Information is sometimes withheld by dealers and auction houses at the request of previous owners who wish to maintain their anonymity. Much archival information remains undiscovered or difficult to access. Provenance information we receive or find needs to be treated cautiously, since owners, dealers, curators, and scholars have been known to associate documentary evidence with the wrong object.

Understanding Provenance Data

The provenance, or history of ownership, of our works of art is listed in chronological order, starting with the earliest known owner and moving forward in time.

Each entry is in the following format:

date range of ownership name of owner or seller, life dates of owner or seller if known (location of owner or seller in parentheses if known), details (if known) of the transaction by which the object passed to its next owner, including information about the particular sale if known (e.g., auction date, place, lot number, sale price)

The left column shows the date range of ownership. Here are a few common date formats:

1955 - 1970The work entered this collection in 1955 and left it in 1970
1955 - The work entered this collection in 1955, but we do not know when it left.
- 1955 We do not know when the work entered this collection, but it left in 1955.
by 1955 - The work was in this collection by 1955 but may have entered it earlier.
- still in 1955The work was still in this collection in 1955, and may have left it at a later date.

An owner name with no date(s) in the left column indicates that we know the work was in this collection, but we do not know precisely when. We do know the work was in this collection between the owners listed above and below it, though there may be other unknown owners in the chain of ownership.

"Private collection" indicates that we know the work was not owned by a dealer and can mean one of two things: 1) we do not know the name of the owner or seller of that work, or 2) we know the name of the owner or seller, but he/she made it a condition of sale that his/her identity not be revealed. "Private Dealer" means that we know the seller was a dealer but we do not know his/her name.

Explore Collection Provenance

 

Provenance research in the Museum is ongoing, with new content published regularly to the online Collection pages. Works in the collection with researched and cataloged provenance information include a Provenance tab on their Collection page.

The Museum has further identified works in the Paintings collection with World War II-era provenance concerns: works with gaps in provenance during the period 1933-1945; or those known to have been confiscated during the period 1933-1945 and restituted to previous owners prior to the Museum's acquisition of them.

Contact Us

 

If you have information or questions about the provenance of any of the works in our collection, please contact us:

Provenance Research
J. Paul Getty Museum
1200 Getty Center Drive,
Suite 1000
Los Angeles, CA 90049-1687
museumprovenance@getty.edu

Additional Information

 
The Nazi-Era Provenance Internet Portal

The Nazi-Era Provenance Internet Portal provides a searchable registry of objects in U.S. museum collections that changed hands in Continental Europe during the Nazi era (1933-1945).