Provenance research at Museumslandschaft Hessen Kassel on paintings acquired between 1933 and 1945
Between 1933 and 1945, 294 paintings were acquired for the former Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Kassel. Their purchase details are shown in the inventory of acquisitions. Today, 214 of these paintings are still in the possession of Museumslandschaft Hessen Kassel (MHK). They come from various sources, including bequests and sales from private citizens and art dealers. A large number of these paintings were displayed in an exhibition in the Landgrafenmuseum (Landgrave Museum), which opened in 1935 and was generously extended from 1937 onward. One of the leading figures in establishing this institution was Philipp, Landgrave of Hesse (1896–1980), an active member of the NSDAP from 1930 and Oberpräsident of the Province of Hesse-Nassau from 1933. Because the paintings amassed for the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Kassel were acquired between 1935 and 1938, immediately prior to the opening of the new Landgrafenmuseum, it was imperative for an examination to be carried out to establish whether any had been confiscated as a result of Nazi persecution. There were also two acquisitions by Hans Möbius, who became the curator of the antiques collection at the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Kassel in 1928. From 1941, he served as an art protection officer in France, where he acquired a wide range of art objects including paintings, furniture, statues, prints and antiques. Also preserved in the archives is a series of documents such as correspondence and sales receipts, although these were not systematically reviewed. On this basis, identification of the objects was necessary, as was a check of how many were still in the possession of the MHK and, subsequently, possible clarification of their provenance prior to their acquisition for the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen.
The research project involves 214 paintings.
As things stand, confiscation as a result of Nazi persecution can be completely ruled out for 87 paintings.
For 60 paintings, it is highly likely that confiscation as a result of Nazi persecution can be ruled out, but this has not yet been fully confirmed.
Confiscation as a result of Nazi persecution cannot be ruled out for 55 paintings.
Two paintings are suspected of having been confiscated by the Nazis. 10 paintings have been identified as Nazi-confiscated property. For one painting, a settlement was reached with the heirs of the victims in 2008. In the other nine cases, financial compensation was paid in 1957 to the heirs of the victim.
The following galleries were examined for the project:
· Hermann Abels, Cologne
· Julius Brauer, Altenburg in Thuringia
· Arno Goldschmidt, Kassel
· Dr. Rolph Grosse, Berlin
· Richard Krebs (senior), Kassel
· Konrad “Kurt” Kröning, Kassel and Bad Wildungen
· Theodor Liermann, Berlin
· W. A. Luz, Berlin
· Maison des Expositions et des Arts “La Grande Galerie”, Paris
· Heinrich Maluvius, Kassel
· Albrecht Nitschke, Breslau
· Reinhard Schumann, Kassel
· Ludwig Steinhauser, Munich
· Konrad Strauß, Berlin
· Friedrich von Wickede, Kassel
A lecture on provenance research was given in the palace of Wilhelmshöhe on September 12, 2015, as part of the “Abendgeschichten” event. An article has been published for the 2015 MHK yearbook with case studies from the project. An article on the restituted silver cup and its history will be published for the 2016 MHK yearbook. A lecture was given in the Neue Galerie on September 21, 2016 as part of the “Kunstpause” series. A colloquium on the topic of provenance research was also held for all MHK volunteers. A further result of this research project is the proactive restitution of a silver cup.
(c) Museumslandschaft Hessen Kassel
Research report and other sources
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