Website of the German Lost Art Foundation

First junior professorship for provenance research at the University of Hamburg—Grütters: Further strengthening of provenance research in Germany

Date 2018.01.08

To­day, Mon­day, Dr. Gesa Jeuthe of­fi­cial­ly took up her post of Ju­nior Pro­fes­sor for His­tor­i­cal and Con­tem­po­rary Prove­nance Re­search at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ham­burg. She is the first ju­nior pro­fes­sor in this field in Ger­many.At the in­au­gu­ra­tion, Moni­ka Grüt­ters, Fed­er­al Gov­ern­ment Com­mis­sion­er for Cul­ture and Me­dia, said: “We need an un­ob­struct­ed view of the truth in or­der to ful­fill our on­go­ing re­spon­si­bil­i­ty to re­mem­ber the vic­tims of Na­tion­al So­cial­ism, a re­spon­si­bil­i­ty placed up­on us due to the un­told suf­fer­ing and in­jus­tice for which Ger­mans are to blame. It is be­yond our abil­i­ty to un­do the ter­ri­ble wrongs of the Nazi regime, and so we will make ev­ery pos­si­ble ef­fort to in­ves­ti­gate Nazi art theft. We want­ed to do jus­tice to the fates of hu­man be­ings not on­ly legal­ly, but al­so moral­ly. Work­ing through the his­to­ry of an art­work is not an end in it­self. Rather, it is about ac­knowl­edg­ing the life his­to­ries of the vic­tims, about rec­og­niz­ing the suf­fer­ing and in­jus­tice to which vic­tims of the Nazi regime, par­tic­u­lar­ly peo­ple of Jew­ish faith, were sub­ject­ed un­der the Na­tion­al So­cial­ist reign of ter­ror. That is why the Ger­man gov­ern­ment is fund­ing ex­ten­sive prove­nance re­search on a long-term ba­sis. The fi­nan­cial re­sources for lo­cal search­es for Nazi-loot­ed art in mu­se­ums have tre­bled since I took of­fice.”

Moni­ka Grüt­ters con­tin­ued: “The es­tab­lish­ment of pro­fes­sor­ships in this field is a very pleas­ing de­vel­op­ment, es­pe­cial­ly be­cause the need for qual­i­fied re­searchers is grow­ing and will re­main high for a long time to come. Need­less to say, prove­nance re­search should not be re­strict­ed to the pe­ri­od of 1933 to 1945—the colo­nial era al­so needs to be fur­ther re­searched. We are on­ly just start­ing to have sci­en­tif­ic and po­lit­i­cal dis­cus­sions re­gard­ing claims from in­dige­nous peo­ples. The same is al­so true for cul­tur­al prop­er­ty lost in the for­mer So­vi­et Oc­cu­pa­tion Zone and the GDR. It is there­fore im­por­tant that the new­ly es­tab­lished ju­nior pro­fes­sor­ship in Ham­burg serves the ex­plic­it aim of em­bed­ding prove­nance re­search for all eras in­to the canon of art his­to­ry re­search and teach­ing. With the ap­point­ment of Gesa Jeuthe, I am de­light­ed that this chal­leng­ing task at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ham­burg is now in the hands of a ded­i­cat­ed and renowned aca­dem­ic who has ex­pe­ri­ence in both the the­o­ry and the prac­tice of prove­nance re­search in equal mea­sure. I should like to ex­tend my thanks in par­tic­u­lar to the Liebelt-Stiftung, with­out whose civic in­volve­ment this pro­fes­sor­ship could not have been es­tab­lished.”

Dr. Gesa Jeuthe took up the Liebelt-Stiftung Pro­fes­sor­ship for His­tor­i­cal and Con­tem­po­rary Prove­nance Re­search at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ham­burg on Au­gust 1, 2017. It has been es­tab­lished for a pe­ri­od of six years with­in the Art His­to­ry de­part­ment. The ju­nior pro­fes­sor­ship is be­ing fi­nanced through a do­na­tion from the Liebelt-Stiftung. The Ger­man Lost Art Foun­da­tion, whose Foun­da­tion Board is chaired by the Min­is­ter of State for Cul­ture and Me­dia, act­ed as a me­di­a­tor pri­or to the es­tab­lish­ment of the pro­fes­sor­ship. Co­op­er­a­tion with the uni­ver­si­ty re­search land­scape is one of the Foun­da­tion’s statu­to­ry tasks.