The Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen (Bavarian State Painting Collections) conducts research into the provenance of artworks that were acquired or catalogued from 1933 onwards and whose ownership history is unclear. In accordance with the principles agreed at the Washington Conference on Holocaust Era Assets that was held in 1998, the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen continually inspects its holdings at the Pinakothek museums and affiliated galleries in order to determine whether any of its artworks were unlawfully expropriated from Jewish owners during the period of National Socialism in Germany. Our objective is to compile seamless provenance documentation for each work, wherever possible, so that ownership issues can be clarified more easily.
SYSTEMATIC PROVENANCE RESEARCH SINCE 1999
The Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen first created a position dedicated to provenance research in 1999, limited to a period of three years. Until 2002, Ilse von zur Mühlen surveyed the museum’s holdings and compiled a catalogue for the 125 works from the former Göring collection, which was published in 2004. In 2006, the investigated works in this report were reported to www.lostart.de on suspicion of theft. In 2008, the museum set up its own department for provenance research to which a full-time conservation specialist was appointed, i.e., the position was made permanent. Since then, Dr. Andrea Bambi has been examining the provenance of artworks that were made before 1945 and acquired by the museum in or after 1933.
PROACTIVE EXAMINATION OF 6000 WORKS
In addition to the systematic research of 6,000 works in the inventory (paintings and sculptures), the department deals with both incoming restitution claims and proactively detected cases. It reports these to www.lostart.de for suspected loss through persecution and, if possible, it approaches the entitled beneficiaries. Furthermore, it handles and realizes processes relevant to provenance, such as new acquisitions of works of art created before 1945, loans, database entries and catalogue entries.
The staff members of the department regularly take part in advanced training courses, workshops and conferences on provenance and art market research. The Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen are a member of the research network Provenance Research Bavaria and the researchers actively participate in the Arbeitskreis Provenienzforschung e. V. (Association for Provenance Research).