Museum Home Museum Research and Conservation Research on Museum Collection Provenance, 1933-45 Paintings Research
Museum Collection Provenance
IntroductionPaintings
BrowseGaps 1933-1945RestitutedPrevious Attributions

Scope of the Collection
The paintings collection comprises works made in Europe from roughly 1300 to 1900.

Organization of this site
Under the "Paintings" heading, there are four different tabs:

  1. Browse all paintings
    Provenance information on all paintings in the Museum's collection. Paintings are listed alphabetically by artist's name.
  2. Gaps 1933-1945
    Provenance information on all paintings in the Museum's collection with gaps in provenance during the period 1933-1945. Paintings are listed alphabetically by artist's name.
  3. Restituted
    Provenance information on all paintings in the Museum's collection known to have been confiscated during the period 1933-1945, and restituted to previous owners prior to the Museum's acquisition of them. Paintings are listed alphabetically by artist's name.
  4. Previous attributions
    Information on the attribution history of paintings in the Museum's collection. Paintings are listed alphabetically by the name of the artist(s) to whom the painting was previously attributed. Paintings with an "unknown" previous attribution are listed under "u," and then alphabetically by culture or school, if known. If the painting has previously been attributed to several different artists, the painting will appear multiple times, once under each different name.

Research Methods
A systematic review of all paintings was undertaken with the objective of recording, to the best of our ability, all known provenance information on each painting. In addition to the comprehensive list, we have identified: 1) works with incomplete provenance between 1933 and 1945, and 2) works known to have been confiscated during the Holocaust era but restituted thereafter. These are given in the two lists called "Gaps 1933-1945" and "Restituted." The works in the first list are the subjects of continuing research to clarify as much provenance as possible within the limits imposed by the fragmentary information available to us. Sources of provenance information include labels and other marks left by previous owners on the objects; auction, collection, and exhibition catalogues; monographic studies; articles in journals; records of dealers; photographic archives; archives of artists and scholars; and correspondence and conversations with scholars.

Attribution
Attribution is the assignment of a work of art to a particular artist, school, or nationality. Attributions often change over time. In tracing the ownership of a work of art, it can be important to know its attribution history, since it may have been identified differently in the past. The list of "previous attributions" provides both the former and current attributions of paintings in the collection.

Changes in the attribution of a work of art occur for several reasons. Often paintings and other types of objects are neither signed nor dated, or have had false signatures added to them after their creation. Art historians may attribute a painting based on a consideration of its stylistic similarities to works of known authorship, an assessment of its technique, scientific analysis of the materials and processes of its execution, and/or interpretation of relevant documentary evidence, such as inventories and payment records. Even with well-known artists, attribution can be highly subjective, and experts often disagree and change their minds.

Additional Information

The Nazi-Era Provenance Internet Portal

 

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