Provenance Research at Mia

The Minneapolis Institute of Art is committed to conducting research on works in its permanent collection as an integral part of its mission. We recognize the importance of in-depth research relating to the events of World War II, and the Nazi-era appropriation of artwork throughout Europe. The museum has completed an assessment of the European paintings and Judaica acquired by the Institute since 1932. This survey was conducted in accordance with the recommendations set forth in December 1998 by the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) and the guidelines provided by the American Association of Museums, issued in October 2000.

The findings posted here are limited to the artworks that were known to have transferred ownership during the crucial years of 1932-1946, or that contain gaps in provenance during that time. Artworks that have been "cleared" in the survey are also included.

By making this information available to the public, the Minneapolis Institute of Art is working to fulfill its mission of responsible stewardship of its collections, and to participate in the worldwide effort of identifying works of art looted during World War II. New information will be continuously added to this site, as further research into the collection is completed according to the AAM guidelines. The museum welcomes any information that may further clarify the provenance of artworks in its collection.

Additional Information

Survey Criteria

The survey of European paintings and Judaica used the following criteria:

  1. Elimination of works of art acquired by the museum before 1932, the year the National Socialist (Nazi) party rose to power.
  2. Elimination of works of art produced after 1946, marking the end of World War II.
  3. Elimination of works of art which were known to have been in the United States, Canada, or the United Kingdom during 1932-1946, without exception.
  4. Elimination of works of art which had a direct line of ownership during 1932-1946, whereby curatorial documentation was able to prove that the works were not looted or appropriated by the Nazis.

Provenance Research Methods

Provenance research is a complex and arduous process, often undertaken by curators or scholars in order to determine the history of ownership of an artwork. It usually involves the physical examination of an artwork for labels or markings, which may indicate the movement of an artwork to another owner or location. In addition, extensive research is often required, utilizing such resources as catalogues raisonnés, photo archives, registrar records, and correspondence from collectors, art dealers, and scholars. Annotated auction catalogues are often a rich source of ownership information, which may occasionally provide biographical information, as are exhibition catalogues. When reviewing such documents, it is necessary to be careful and critical, as gaps in ownership are often encountered. It is not unusual for an artwork to have a long period in its ownership history in which the work is unaccounted for. The attribution of an artwork may change over time, creating confusion in tracking documentation. Other considerations include the possibilities that owners may request anonymity, auction houses or art dealers may not wish to reveal their sources, or important archival resources have been lost or destroyed in natural disasters or wartime. Indeed, being able to establish a full provenance history for a work of art is often the exception. It must be stressed that because an artwork has a gap in its provenance, it does not mean we believe the work was looted.

How to Read Provenance

In writing provenance, the Minneapolis Institute of Art has used the format suggested by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., for ease of readability.

The provenance for works of art are listed in chronological order, beginning with the earliest known owner. Life dates, if known, are enclosed in brackets. Dealers, auction houses, or agents are enclosed in parentheses to distinguish from private owners. Relationships between owners and methods of transactions are indicated by punctuation: a semicolon is used to indicate that the work passed directly between two owners (including dealers, auction houses, or agents), and a period is used to separate two owners (including dealers auction houses or agents) if a direct transfer did not occur or is not known to have occurred. Footnotes are used to document or clarify information.

Contact Information

If you have information or wish to inquire about any of the works on Mia's current list of European paintings or Judaica, please e-mail us, or write to the Provenance Research Project, Minneapolis Institute of Art, 2400 Third Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404.

For more information on provenance research in American museums, see the American Association of Museums guidelines for Nazi-era provenance.

Suggested Readings

  • Barron, Stephanie, et al. "Degenerate Art," The Fate of the Avant-Garde in Nazi Germany. Los Angeles: LACMA, 1991.
  • Feliciano, Hector. The Lost Museum: The Nazi Conspiracy to Steal the World's Greatest Works of Art. New York: Basic Books, 1997.
  • Howe, Thomas Carr Jr. Salt Mines and Castles: The Discovery and Restitution of Looted European Art. New York: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1946.
  • Kurtz, Michael J. Nazi Contraband: American Policy on the Return of European Cultural Treasures, 1945–1955. New York: Garland, 1985.
  • Nicholas, Lynn H. The Rape of Europa: The Fate of Europe’s Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994.
  • Petropoulos. Jonathan. Art as Politics in the Third Reich. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996.
  • Petropoulos. Jonathan. The Faustian Bargain: The Art World in Nazi Germany. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.
  • Simpson, Elizabeth, ed. The Spoils of War: World War II and Its Aftermath. The Loss, Reappearance, and Recovery of Cultural
    . New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1997. - Yeide, Nancy H. et. al. The AAM Guide to Provenance Research. Washington D.C.: American Association of Museums, 2001.