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Provenance research in Linz’s municipal museums

The City of Linz has been in the forefront for several decades among Austrian regional authorities in analyzing the history of the Nazi era in a number of initiatives, such as research projects, publications and exhibitions. On the basis of the Kunstrückgabegesetz, the Art Restitution Law passed in 1998, Austria’s federal museums have subjected their holdings to a rigorous examination to identify works of art looted by the Nazis. Linz has likewise engaged in a systematic and thorough scrutiny of the holdings of its museums.

The systematic scrutiny of the holdings of the LENTOS and/or of its predecessor institution, the Neue Galerie der Stadt Linz, has been going on since 1998.  In 1999, the City of  Linz published a first comprehensive report compiled by the head of the City Archives, Dr. Walter Schuster, on the Sammlung Gurlitt, the Gurlitt Collection, which originally formed the core of the Museum’s  holdings.

A working group for provenance research was established by the mayor and the city’s chief executive director in 2007 to focus the process. The group is assisted by the internationally acknowledged expert in provenance research in the context of museums and public institutions, Dr Vanessa-Maria Voigt (Germany), and headed by the LENTOS’s artistic director, Stella Rollig. Its chief focus, in addition to more topical provenance queries, is systematic research into the provenance of works acquired by the City of Linz from the Gurlitt Collection.

Works under investigation and restitutions carried out

On the basis of the group’s research work and of external expert opinions the following works of art were restituted, in each case following an appropriate decision by the Linz City Council:

  • 1999: Lesser Ury, Die Näherin [The seamstress] (Inv. no. 138)
     to the heirs of a Berlin collection
     
  • 2003: Egon Schiele, Stadt am Fluss [Town on the river] (Inv. no. 13)
     to the heirs of Daisy Hellmann
     
  • 2009: Gustav Klimt, Damenbildnis [Portrait of a lady] (Inv. no. 149)
     to the heirs of Aranka Munk
     
  • 2011: Wilhelm Trübner, Bildnis Carl Schuh [Portrait of Carl Schuh] (Inv. no. 104)
     Consensual settlement with the heirs of Harry Fuld
     
  • 2012: 6 paintings by Anton Romako: Mädchen mit aufgestütztem Arm (Tochter des Künstlers), 1875, Inv. no. 10; Der Zweikampf (Kämpfende Ritter), Inv. no. 81; Zigeunerlager, 1879 (?), Inv. no. 83; Mädchen mit Früchten, um 1875, Inv. no. 103; Ungarische Puszta (Strohschober in Bálványos), about1880, Inv. no. 104; Bildnis Karl Schwach, 1854, Inv. no. 145
    to the heirs of Oskar und Malvine Reichel
    Thanks to the generous courtesy of the owner these works remain on permanent loan at the LENTOS where they can be showcased furthermore. 
     
  • 2015: Lovis Corinth, Othello (Der Mohr), 1894, (Inv. Nr. 23) and Lovis Corinth, Schwabing (Blick aus dem Atelierfenster), 1891, (Inv. Nr. 24)
    to the heirs of Jean and Ida Baer
  • 2015: Emil Nolde, Maiwiese (Maienwiese) [Meadow in May], 1915, (Inv. Nr. 94) to the heirs of Dr. Otto Siegfried Julius

The LENTOS is determined to do everything to make the provenance of its holdings as transparent as possible. We are grateful for all pertinent information, particularly from scholars working in a provenance related area. If you have any queries concerning individual objects or any information that may throw additional light on any object, please contact

LENTOS Kunstmuseum Linz
Provenienzforschung
Ernst-Koref-Promenade 1
4020 Linz
AUSTRIA

or write to provenienzforschung@lentos.at

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