Gaston Camillo Lenthe, Campagnalandschaft mit Blick auf die Sabinerberge, reverse side, Inv. 526-1947/30
During the period of National Socialism and well into the post-war years, the Kunsthalle Bremen acquired numerous artworks, some of them particularly valuable, from Arnold Blome (1894–1972), Heinrich Glosemeyer (1896–1969) and Dr Hugo Oelze (1892–1967). These paintings were mostly purchases, but also included generous donations and bequests, particularly after the war.
The art dealer, collector and artist Arnold Blome sold a total of six paintings to the Kunsthalle Bremen as well as a sculpture and 541 works on paper – mainly nineteenth-century drawings. After the death of his wife Helene in 1946, he additionally donated 32 paintings and 82 drawings as the Helene & Arnold Blome Bequest.
The museum acquired five works on paper and twelve valuable paintings (five of them as donations) from the wholesaler Heinrich Glosemeyer.
The lawyer Hugo Oelze came from a well-respected Bremen merchant family.From the 1920s onward he lived in Amsterdam, where he dealt in art in close contact with his home town and also built up a private collection. Besides from several sales (two paintings and eight works on paper) to the Kunsthalle, he donated a plate and later bequeathed the museum five exquisite paintings.
The biographies and collecting profiles of these three men reflect the history of the Kunsthalle during the Second World War and the post-war years. They also provide an interesting insight into the art market of the time and its regional, national and international interconnections.
This three-year research project has been supported since December 2010 by the Centre for Provenance Research at the Institute for Museum Research of the Berlin State Museums – Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation. Its aim is to establish a transparent chain of ownership since 1933 for every work of art in the three collections, in order to establish whether they include artworks that were wrongfully expropriated under National Socialism or were sold under political pressure.
With this project the Kunsthalle Bremen is complying with the declaration on the identification and return of cultural artefacts lost through National Socialist persecution, particularly of Jewish property (the declaration was passed in 1999 by the Federal government, the Federal states and municipal umbrella organisations). In accordance with the Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art adopted the previous year, this declaration calls on German art institutions and their legal representatives to verify the exact origins of their collections and to disclose unlawful ownership.
In the course of drawing up scholarly inventories, provenance research has become an indispensable part of day-to-day museum work. Its objective is to investigate the origins of every work of art. As with people, works of art only obtain an identity of their own through the knowledge of their personal history. Provenance research aids the identification of lost artworks, helps to clarify the works’ authenticity and is enlisted in the historical documentation of collections, donations and purchases. It further delivers important information on museum history.
Only in recent years has a special branch of provenance research begun to take a serious interest in the history of artworks which were created before 1945, traded from 1933 until today and purchased by museums. This research has the primary objective to clarify whether an artwork was unlawfully expropriated during the period of National Socialism or whether its owner was forced to relinquish it for political reasons. The next stage is to determine whether an artwork has to be returned and to whom.
Dr. Brigitte Reuter
Provenienzforschung/ Provenance Research
T 0049(0)421 329 08-261
F 0049(0)421 329 08-470
reuter at kunsthalle-bremen dot de
Dr. Dorothee Hansen
Stellvertretende Direktorin und Kustodin für Gemälde
T 0049(0)421 329 08-260
F 0049(0)421 329 08-470
hansen at kunsthalle-bremen dot de