Provenance research on a photo album with photos of objects from the Remé collection: “Cabinet de la Reine—Haus Lüttensasel 1935”.
- Dr. Olaf Matthes
Telephone: +49 (0) 40 428 132 202
- Wiebke Müller M.A.
Telephone: +49 (0) 40 428 132 903
- August 2014 to January 2015
The acquisition of a photo album from 1935 with approx. 50 objects from the art collection of the Hamburg notary Dr. Georg Adolf Remé offered the prospect of clarifying the origin of this previously little-known Hamburg private collection. It raised questions about Jewish property and about objects from distressed sales made under the threat of persecution. Also serving this purpose was the clarification of the possible origin of objects owned by the Jewish art dealer Heinrich Bachrach (Hamburg). In order to identify non-suspicious objects from the collection, the possible family origin of the art objects should be researched. The initial matter was to match images from the photo album to the auction of the “Dr. R. collection” at Lange auction house in Berlin (April 7–9, 1938) and, combined with the findings obtained, clarify the provenance of the objects depicted. An additional question concerned the folder’s subtitle “Cabinet de la Reine” and the possible clue this provided about the origin of the objects.
Involved are 49 objects, depicted on 36 boards and 50 photographs. It was possible to match approx. 37 objects to the Lange auction within the framework of the restrictions mentioned below. Reliable matching cannot be assumed only on the basis of an image comparison or comparison of description/image. Therefore, the objects portrayed in the Remé photo album were matched to the Lange auction catalog in two categories: “relatively sure” (category 1) and “unsure” (category 2). Where it was not possible to match an object in the photo album to the auction catalog, it was assigned to category 3. For the objects matched—in categories—to the auction, there are now possibly better images in existence or images available for the first time. In addition, for 20 works of decorative art from the Remé private collection, there are now images for the first time; this possibly also applies to 11 objects from the field of painting. Categorizing provenances according to color scales was ruled out given the specific source situation (no original objects, only photographic images: problem that the identity of objects is not explicitly clear).
The short duration of the project limits the possibilities for making greater efforts in terms of publicity. Besides displaying the project on the website of the Historic Museums Hamburg Foundation/Hamburg Museum, the project was presented as part of a public evening lecture on provenance research at the Hamburg Museum (large lecture hall) on November 13, 2014, and during an event run by the Volkshochschule Hamburg (library) in February 2015 at Hamburg Museum.