Victoria's Blog

Musings from an art historian and provenance researcher

Thinking Outside of the Provenance Research Box

As you have surely figured out from my past posts, provenance research often requires a great deal of creativity. While auction records, catalogues raisonnés, archival collections, WWII provenance research databases, dealer records, and so on are typically your first steps when delving into a prov...

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The Provenance of Thomas Cole’s “View of Florence”: an unsolved mystery

During my tenure as the provenance researcher at the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA), I worked on the provenances of a few paintings that had particularly complex and/or elusive ownership histories.  I researched these provenances fairly continuously over the course of my nearly 3.5 years there, vari...

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Debates begin over supposed Nazi treasure train

In the past week, the media has been abuzz with news of the German train supposedly discovered in a tunnel near Walbrzych, Poland, and the ground-penetrating radar images that appear to confirm the potentially invaluable find. Local legend has it that at the end of World War II, an armored train car...

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Never Underestimate the Power of Google as a Provenance Research Tool

When you think of electronic provenance research tools, auction record databases, digitized archival collections, databases of looted art, and indexes of collectors and collections are the types of resources that typically come to mind.  Of course, all of these tools are indispensable to my researc...

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Woman in Gold: Altmann v. Republic of Austria and some documentation concerning the Bloch-Bauer collection

The story of Maria Altmann’s legal battle with the Austrian government over paintings that had been seized from her family by the Nazis is coming to the big screen this week in the film Woman in Gold, starring Helen Mirren as Altmann.  The story is well-known and compelling: the Nazis confiscated...

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Weird Provenance

We all know that missing artwork has the habit of turning up in odd places: in a cemetery, on eBay, in the parking lot of a psychiatric hospital, even inside the bathroom of the museum from which it was stolen.  But inside of a former meth lab? While searching a condemned apartment that had been [&...

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Unknown Drawing, Unknown Provenance

The Witt Library at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, with its approximately 2 million reproductions (see photo) after works of art that are often accompanied by provenance information, is an invaluable research for provenance researchers. I went to the Witt Library while conducting provenan...

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Some thoughts on “The Monuments Men”

I found The Monuments Men to be enjoyable enough.  Of course, I was going to see the movie no matter how bad the reviews were.  Certainly the movie introduced the story of the post-war efforts to recover art looted by the Nazis to a wider audience, and that’s a good thing.  But the end product...

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Pop Culture Reference: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Theft

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum theft played an unexpected role in this past Monday’s episode of The Blacklist – the NBC show starring James Spader as a criminal mastermind who offers to help the FBI catch some of the world’s most nefarious and elusive bad guys (and ladies). Spader’s cha...

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My job as the Provenance Researcher at the Cleveland Museum of Art

I recently began a seven-month position as the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Provenance Researcher.   My appointment makes Cleveland one of only a few museums in the United States that have a dedicated provenance researcher—an important step that more museums should be taking in the pursuit of tho...

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