Website of the German Lost Art Foundation

Institute for Classical Archaeology at the University of Erlangen examines objects from the Collection of Classical Antiquities

Date 2021.05.28

At­tic ce­ram­ic frag­ments and oth­er an­cient ob­jects are the fo­cus of a prove­nance re­search project that has be­gun at the In­sti­tute of Clas­si­cal Ar­chae­ol­o­gy at the Friedrich Alexan­der Uni­ver­si­ty of Er­lan­gen-Nurem­berg and is fund­ed by the Ger­man Lost Art Foun­da­tion. In the course of an­oth­er re­search project, it had come to light that many of the red-fig­ure clay shards from the lo­cal an­tiq­ui­ties col­lec­tion had been pur­chased in 1939 by a pri­vate Mu­nich col­lec­tion called "Dehn," which had hith­er­to been un­known to re­searchers.

Ini­tial re­search re­vealed that it was not, as pre­vi­ous­ly thought, a sale from the es­tate of a col­lec­tor by his sup­posed "wid­ow" Wiltrud Dehn, but that the ob­jects were sold dur­ing the life­time of the col­lec­tor Georg Dehn. Dehn was per­se­cut­ed as a Jew un­der Na­tion­al So­cial­ism, and the ob­jects were sold in the name of his "Aryan" wife be­fore the fam­i­ly fled to Ecuador six months lat­er.

Ev­i­dence can be found that Georg Dehn (1887-1967) and the then head of the Col­lec­tion of Clas­si­cal An­tiq­ui­ties and Pro­fes­sor of Clas­si­cal Ar­chae­ol­o­gy Georg Lip­pold (1885-1954) knew each oth­er from their time to­geth­er at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mu­nich be­fore the First World War. Doc­u­ments in the Archive of the Col­lec­tion of Clas­si­cal An­tiq­ui­ties show that Lip­pold al­so pri­vate­ly ac­quired ob­jects from the Dehn Col­lec­tion in 1939. A short time lat­er, he sold them on to the Col­lec­tion of Clas­si­cal An­tiq­ui­ties, which he him­self head­ed.

The cir­cum­stances as­cer­tained so far sug­gest that Georg Dehn sold his col­lec­tion be­cause he had to flee per­se­cu­tion by the Nazi regime. The back­ground has not yet been ful­ly re­searched or doc­u­ment­ed; the prove­nance re­search project is in­tend­ed to close this gap.

Re­sults of the re­search project will be pre­sent­ed by Dr Georg Ger­leign­er in a lec­ture at the Er­lan­gen Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal Col­lo­qui­um on Ju­ly 15, 2021, more in­for­ma­tion can be found at: http://www.klas­sis­c­hearchae­olo­gie.phil.fau.de/laufende_pro­jek­te/die-pri­vat­samm­lung-georg-dehn-und-die-an­tiken­samm­lung-er­lan­gen/