Nazi-Era Provenance Research Project
Like many museums across the country,
the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art is participating in the nationwide effort
to identify works of art that may have been illegally confiscated from
their rightful owners by the Nazi regime during World War II. Committed
to the responsible stewardship of its collection, the Brooks Museum is
conducting in-depth provenance research on a number of paintings in the
permanent collection, in compliance with the guidelines issued by the
American Association of Museums in 1999 and 2001.
This ongoing project, which began in 2002, focuses on all European paintings
in the permanent collection that transferred ownership or have gaps in
their provenance, or history of ownership, during 1933 to 1945. During
the past two years, a number of the museum’s paintings have been researched
and their provenance has been established, while others continue to be
However, we cannot conclude that a work of art was looted or appropriated
by the Nazis simply because it has incomplete or unverified information
in its provenance and is included in our survey. The provenance gap only
highlights the need for further documentary evidence to clarify the history
of ownership. Many times these gaps are simply the result of lost or
destroyed gallery records or requested anonymity of a past owner. The
provenance of many of these paintings may never be fully resolved, but
with the recent declassification of documents and the broad range of
databases, catalogues, and images available on the Internet from libraries,
museums, and research centers worldwide, the chance for success is much
greater than ever before.
Take a look at a list
of paintings from the Brooks’ permanent collection that are currently
undergoing research due to lapses in provenance. In allowing public access
to this information, we join with the international art museum community
in the diligent search for items seized or looted during the Nazi era.
If you have any inquiries or information about these items, please contact
the museum at email@example.com.
The American Association of Museums has developed a Nazi-Era
Provenance Internet Portal which provides a searchable registry of objects
in United States museum collections that fit the criteria discussed above.
Roelof Koets (Dutch, 1592-1655)
Still Life on a Draped Table, ca. 1635
Oil on panel
29 5/8" x 43" (75.2 cm x 109.2 cm)
Signed: lower left
Memphis Brooks Museum of Art Purchase; Morrie A. Moss Acquisition Fund 2002.2