Provenance Research on the Holdings of Paintings and Sculpture in the Akademie der Künste Art Collection

Project duration: October 2017 – September 2019

Verso of the painting Männliches Bildnis mit rotem Kopftuch im Profil,
unknown artist, no date

Provenance research is one of the fundamental tasks of museums, libraries and archives, and has become increasingly important over the years. Since the Washington Principles in 1998 and Germany subsequently issuing in December 1999 a “Joint Declaration by the Federal Government, the Laender (Federal States) and the national associations of local authorities on tracing and returning Nazi-looted art, especially Jewish property”, research has again come to focus on issues concerning the provenance of art works. In October 2017, this responsibility led the Akademie der Künste to organise a research project to systematically investigate the provenance of those pre-1945 works in the painting and sculpture collection which came into the Akademie’s possession after 1933. This provenance research is being generously supported by the German Lost Art Foundation for two years until the end of September 2019.

With over 1200 artistic estates and an extensive art collection and library, the Archives of the Akademie der Künste is ranked as one of the leading twentieth-century art archives. The provenance project now starting focuses on the Art Collection’s holdings and represents the start of provenance research at the Akademie der Künste. The founding of the Akademie der Künste in 1696 provided the basis for a collection whose holdings have steadily expanded down the years and are still growing today. This provenance research project is specifically considering 128 paintings and 135 sculptures without detailed records for the period 1933 – 1945. These include works where the acquisition context is unclear, or which were documented purchases from the art trade after 1945 or donations to the collections of the East German Akademie der Künste and the Akademie der Künste in West Berlin.

The research results will be published via the Archives Database. In addition, all works restituted are to be published on the Akademie der Künste website. Where research indicates doubt over provenance and a possible loss between 1933 and 1945 through Nazi persecution but without this being successfully concretised further, the works in question will be listed on the German Lost Art Foundation’s Lost Art Internet Database.

Project Management: Dr. Rosa von der Schulenburg, Anna Schultz
Project Assistants: Carolin Faude-Nagel, Dorothee Grafahrend-Gohmert