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Introduction to the Provenance Research Project

Ownership History for European Painting and Sculpture, 1933-45

On July 16, 1998, The AGO Board of Trustees established the Ad Hoc Committee on the Spoliation of Art in Europe (1933-1945) in response to the American Art Museums Directors (AAMD) Task Force Report on the Spoliation of Art during the Nazi/WWII Era (1933-1945). This important policy document has since been adopted by the Canadian Association of Museum Directors (CAMDO).

In doing this, the AGO reaffirmed its ongoing commitment to research the provenance of works in its permanent collection, and underlined its adherence to professional ethics. The chair of the Board Committee, Allan Gotlieb, and the Director, Matthew Teitelbaum, subsequently set up a staff task force chaired by Dr. Katharine Lochnan, Senior Curator, Prints and Drawings, with a mandate to develop policies and procedures regarding the search for wartime provenance and their implementation.

The AGO's staff Task Force has focussed on the most important paintings, sculptures, and drawings the European collection with gaps in their provenance (history of ownership) between the critical years of 1933-1945. We are listing the first 46 here. We will continue to update this site as additional information becomes available.

The research process is lengthy and complex and involves curators working with dedicated researchers. In 1999-2000, The Tecolote Foundation generously supported the work of two interns who conducted research on the provenance of the most important paintings in the Art Gallery of Ontario's European collection. In summer 2000, the Marvin Gelber Intern in Prints and Drawings began work on the provenance of the most important European drawings. Every work is being checked with the New York based Art Loss Registry to see if any can be identified as works that are known to be missing.

The Gallery has no reason to believe that any of the works in its collection were unlawfully confiscated during the Nazi/WWII era. It is our hope that continuing research into the provenance of works in the collection will allow us to determine with certainty where they were during this period of time.

The value of the research conducted cannot be overstated. By exercising due diligence in searching for all the information we can reasonably gather regarding our permanent collection, and the commensurate understanding of the works we hold in public trust, we reflect the core values of this institution.

Information or questions concerning these works, contact Liana Radvak, Registrar, Collections Information Resources.

Board Ad Hoc Committee on the Spoliation of Art in Europe (1933-45)

  • Allan Gotlieb (Chair)
  • Lucie Amyot
  • William Innes
  • Samuel Sarick
  • Joseph Tanenbaum
  • Joanne Tod

Ex. Officio:

  • Matthew Teitelbaum, Director
  • Dennis Reid, Chief Curator
  • Katharine Lochnan, Senior Curator, Prints and Drawings

Staff Task Force on the Spoliation of Art in Europe (1933-45)

  • Katharine Lochnan, Senior Curator, Prints and Drawings (Chair)
  • Mara Meikle, Manager, Curatorial Administration
  • Michael Parke-Taylor, Acting Curator of European Art
  • Larry Pfaff, Deputy Librarian
  • Liana Radvak, Registrar, Collection Information Resources
  • Barry Simpson, Registrar

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