New Provenance Research Project on National Socialist Period

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Art collection of a Jewish manufacturer being studied at Freie Universität Berlin

No 113/2019 from Apr 29, 2019

The German Lost Art Foundation has approved a new research project at Freie Universität Berlin designed to reconstruct the art collection of the toy manufacturer, collector, and patron Abraham Adelsberger (1863-1940). The new project, like the Mosse Art Research Initiative, will be based at Freie Universität and conducted in cooperation with the collector’s heirs. Situated in the subdepartment headed by Klaus Krüger, the research will be led by Dr. Meike Hoffmann as academic coordinator. The involved researchers aim to identify the art objects of the collector Abraham Adelsberger that changed hands owing to persecution during the National Socialist period. They also hope to clarify the circumstances of loss and recover the original works.

According to art historian Meike Hoffmann, a complicating factor in the case of Abraham Adelsberger is the fact that he used his works of art to secure credit from the Dresdener Bank. After granting the credit to Adelsberger, the bank began to make use of the art works assigned as collateral for other purposes. This case is an example of the urgent need for provenance research to explore the relationships and internal mechanisms of the bank, as Lynn Rother pointed out in his 2017 book Kunst durch Kredit. Die Berliner Museen und ihre Erwerbungen von der Dresdner Bank 1935 . In this new project, the researchers will work together with Abraham Adelsberger’s heirs, the museums facing restitution claims, and various archives. The aim of the research project, initially planned for one year, is to shed light on the events leading up to 1934.

Dr. Meike Hoffmann, Art History Institute, Freie Universität Berlin, "Degenerate Art" Research Center, Tel.: +49 30 838-54523, Email: meike.hoffmann [at] fu-berlin (p) de