Provenance Research

Provenance Research at the Kunsthalle zu Kiel

Paintings and Sculptures

© Kunsthalle zu Kiel
© Kunsthalle zu Kiel

The provenance of a work of art describes its origin, or even its “biography”. It gives information about when the work belonged to whom and where it was kept. Provenance research is therefore one of the central tasks of a responsible museum.

Since 2014, the Kunsthalle zu Kiel has systematically examined all its acquisitions made since 1933 and before 1945. Since May 2015, the Deutsche Zentrum Kulturgutverluste (German Lost Art Foundation) has been supporting our provenance work by funding a research position. The collection has been examined for paintings, sculptures or prints that were seized from their owners as a result of persecution during the era of National Socialism (1933-1945), and which are referred to as “looted art”. If such works of art are identified, the first goal is to track down the rightful owners and secondly, to restitute these works or, by mutual agreement with the owners, acquire them for the Kunsthalle’s collection.



In October 2017, the project was completed for paintings and sculptures. Of the 94 works examined, one painting was identified as Second World War looted art. As a result, the Kunsthalle zu Kiel returned the work Waldweiher by Vasilij Dmitrievič Polenov to the Taganrog State Museum of Literature, Architecture and History in Russia in 2017. There are grounds to believe that a further 16 paintings are instances of looted art. They are classified as “suspicious” and listed on the Lost Art Database under “found object reports” (see link to: Lost Art).

Since May 2018, the provenances of around 600 works of art from the Prints and Drawings Collection have been examined. The focus of the investigations are watercolours, drawings and prints which were added to the collection between 1933 and 1950. Among them there are also works which only resurfaced during the flourishing art market period of the post-war years; nothing is known about their whereabouts during the Nazi period.

The funding period has initially been set up for two years and ended in April 2020.  




Project supervisor:
Dr. Annette Weisner
Telephone +49 431 88057-80