Website of the German Lost Art Foundation

Establishment of a Provenance Dossier on the Tapestry “Roman with Two Prisoners on Wagon”, ca. 1530, in the holdings of the Max Planck Society, Munich

funding area Nazi confiscated art Grant recipient Max-Planck-Institut für Plasmaphysik (Garching bei München) State Bavaria Website Contact person
  • RA Armin Scherber
    Projektbericht_Ansprechpartner_FunktionLeiter der Abteilung Soziales und Interner Dienst
Project type Short-term project to investigate matter of current interest Funding duration
  1. November 2015 to February 2016


In 1989, the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics in Munich-Garching obtained a tapestry depicting the scene of a Roman victory titled “Roman with Two Prisoners on Wagon” (4.7 x 3.45 m), presumably made in a Brügge manufactory around 1530. The Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics purchased the tapestry from the Bavarian State Tax Office in Munich at the end of July 1989 for 20,000 DM. At the time of purchase, the Max Planck Institute was provided with no coherent information regarding the provenance of the tapestry. The only thing that was known about the item with the Munich catalogue number 44792 was that it had been “former property of the Empire”. Only after more recent investigation, researchers discovered that the tapestry was part of a collection for a “Führer Museum” which Adolf Hitler planned to build in Linz and had even been assigned the Linz inventory number 914. It was also discovered that until 1940 the tapestry had been in the possession of the Kunst- und Antiquitätenhandlung Bernheimer in Munich.
In view of the fact that the company underwent “Aryanisation” in mid-1939 and that the tapestry could have been an illegally seized cultural asset, the Max Planck Institute decided to conduct more extensive research into its provenance. The focus of the proposed research project was to investigate the circumstances of ownership from 1933 to 1945 and determine whether the former owner of the tapestry was forced to sell or relinquish it as a result of Nazi persecution during that time. As part of the project, the researchers also systematically investigated the archived documents in the Bavarian Central State Archive in Munich, the State Archive in Munich and the Munich municipal archive to shed light on the fate of the L. Bernheimer Co. during the Nazi dictatorship. The researchers also examined the files on the tapestry at the German Federal Archives in Koblenz.

© Max-Planck-Instituts für Plasmaphysik