In the context of looted art during the period of National Socialism (1933-1945), the Musée Ariana undertook research on the provenance of its collections.
With the financial support of the Swiss Confederation, the Musée Ariana has carried out two operations in order to bring more transparency in the historical origin of its collections:
- on one hand the museum studies the source of its collections
- on the other hand the museum improved its acceptance process during a new acquisition
We publish here the results of this study, carried out by Marie Mazzone, art historian, under the direction of Anne-Claire Schumacher, chief curator at the Musée Ariana, and Isabelle Naef Galuba, director.
Rapport du Musée Ariana sur les recherches de provenance dans ses collections (in French)
The lists in appendix concern the objects with their description (in French).
As a result of this first research on the origins of the works, eight objects were classified in category C. This means that the provenance between 1933 and 1945 is not clear or presents gaps. The information available suggests that there could be links with the problem of the looted art.
The research was therefore carried out.
We publish here the eight reports of this second detailed research with the images of the works concerned.
Pendule de cheminée, Manufactures de Meissen et de Vincennes, 1750-1755 (AR 2003-210)
Paire de tulipières, De Metaale Pot, Delft, 1700-1724 (AR 2007-136-1 et -2)
Assiette, Delft, 1770-1780 (AR 2007-143)
Paire de terrines en forme de vanneau, De Grieksche A, Delft, 1757-1764 (AR 2007-147-1 et -2)
Plat Orphée charmant les animaux, Faenza, 1520-1525 (AR 12727)
Plat Le Rapt d'Hélène, Urbino, 1528 (AR 12728)
Under the domination of the Nazis from 1933 to 1945, a great many works of art were confiscated in Germany and in annexed and occupied countries. Looted art of this kind was dispersed abroad and on occasion ended up in Switzerland, both during the time of German National Socialism and thereafter.
Soon after the end of the Second World War, steps began to be taken to reimburse or compensate the victims – both on the international level and within Switzerland. In 1998 the Swiss Federal Office of Culture published a report on an investigation into the provenance of cultural property in the possession of the Swiss Confederation, with particular reference to the issue of Nazi-looted art. The same year saw the publication of a study on Switzerland as an art market in the years from 1933 to 1945, which was commissioned by the Federal Office of Culture and the Nationale Informationsstelle für Kulturgüter-Erhaltung (NIKE).
At international level, in December 1998 the Swiss Confederation took part, along with 43 other nations, in the pioneering Washington Conference, and made a significant contribution to the elaboration of the Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art (the “Washington Principles”). These are non-binding guidelines aimed at bringing about just and fair solutions in cases where art works have been confiscated.
Following the Washington Conference, on 26 January 1999 the Swiss Federal Council set up the Contact Bureau on Looted Art. In dealing with issues arising from Nazi-looted art, this institution recommends a transparent, legal and adequate approach with the aim of arriving at just and fair solutions.
Source: Swiss Federal Office of Culture