A “Jeune femme en buste” dated 1900 and painted by Renoir has a minimalist provenance as it awaits sale in March 2017 through Bonhams.

The only listed owner is a Private collection in Southern Germany, which might include Bavaria.

For a French impressionist painting to end up in Southern Germany, there are many possible pathways.

Once again, this is a clarion call for clarity because history has a terrible habit of interfering with the ownership trail of works of art, especially during periods of intense civil strife and military conflict.

In the case of this painting, two world wars and a genocide occurred before the dust settled in 1945.

Wouldn’t it be appropriate to understand a bit more about this work’s history?

Last but not least, don’t authenticators and authors of catalogues raisonnes bear some responsibility in attesting to the accuracy of a provenance or are they just concerned about authenticity and nothing else? That would be convenient because authenticity issues do not necessarily imply full understanding of a work of art’s history. If that is in fact how authors of catalogues raisonnes and authenticators operate, we are really in trouble and their work products should be called into question.

Source: Holocaust Art Restitution Project.


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