The staff of the Archive has been carrying out provenance research at the Belvedere since 1998. Since 1999 seventy-nine provenance dossiers and a provenance report dealing with the collection of the library have been submitted to the Art Restitution Committee. The spectrum ranges from a Gothic panel by the Meister der Veitslegende and major works of nineteenth century Austrian and German painting by Waldmüller, Romako, or Feuerbach to Viennese art of the turn of the century by Klimt or Schiele (restitutions since 1999).
Provenance research at the Belvedere examines all works acquired since 1933 and created before 1945. These 5,000 or so paintings, sculptures, or drawings are entered into a museum database, and an archive and literature search is carried out for each object, which is then classified as uncritical, questionable, or unresolved.
Provenance research is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
The provenance dossiers drawn up by the Belvedere are sent to the Commission for Provenance Research in the Federal Monuments Office and from there to the Art Restitution Committee in the Federal Chancellery, which issues recommendations regarding the restitution of works of art.
Of the 79 dossiers drawn up as of March 2017, 74 have been dealt with by the Art Restitution Committee. It recommended restitution in 43 cases concerning 65 works of art and 6 publications. 54 of these works have been handed back to the descendants of the former owners. The remainder will remain in the museum until the rightful heirs can be identified.
In 15 cases involving 28 works of art, the Committee advised against restitution. Among these were the 5 Klimt pictures from the Bloch-Bauer collection, which have subsequently been restituted, and also Edvard Munchs Summer Night at the Beach from the Mahler-Werfel collection. In this latter case, the Committee reversed its negative decision of 1999 and on November 8, 2006 recommended that it be restituted to the heiress, to whom the painting was returned on May 9, 2007. The Comitee meeting on March 6, 2015 could not recommend the restitution of the Beethovenfries by Gustav Klimt from the Lederer collection.
The Art Restitution Committee is currently working on five dossiers involving ten works of art.
The database contains around 5,000 objects purchased by the Belvedere since 1933 and created before 1945. By definition, works acquired before 1933 or created after 1945 are not subject to provenance research in the meaning of the Art Restitution Law.
The database, which also contains sensitive data, is for internal provenance research and is not therefore open to the public.
Works of art are categorized as uncritical, questionable, or unresolved.
Uncritical means that the provenance can be clearly identified. Even if the work was confiscated from Jewish owners between 1938 and 1945, it was returned to its original owners after the war or acquired in regular fashion by the Belvedere.
Questionable items are those acquired by the Österreichische Galerie under circumstances described in section 1 of the Art Restitution Law. This section refers to works of art that
- had been restituted to their original owners or legal heirs but could not be exported because of the 1919 Export Prohibition Law and subsequently became the property of the state legally,
- had been the object of a transaction deemed invalid according to the Nichtigkeitsgesetz of 1946
- had not been returned to their original owners or their legal heirs after conclusion of restitution proceedings and were thus still held by the state as property without heirs.
Unresolved means that insufficient information is currently available to determine the provenance of the work, and that it is not possible from the available indications to classify the work as either uncritical or questionable. This applies in particular to acquisitions from the art market both in the period from 1938 to 1945 and after the war.
Probably uncritical refers to works of art that can be plausibly assumed to have been legally acquired and that are not from confiscated Jewish estates, even if this cannot be determined with complete certainty.
During the research it proved useful to introduce this intermediate category as well as the category suspicious.
Suspicious refers to acquisitions for which there is some evidence that they were from confiscated assets, without the possibility of determining the provenance definitively.
Research continues on works that fall into these categories. The research is considered complete only when the works have been definitively classified as uncritical or, in the case of questionable items, a provenance dossier has been created and dealt with by the Committee.
To the heirs of Martha Liebermann:
Leibl, Wilhelm: Bauernküche /Kücheninterieur, Inv.-Nr. 3388
To the heirs of Rudolf Bittmann:
Daffinger, Moritz: Bildnis der Gattin Marie Daffinger, Inv.-Nr. 4254
To the heirs of Josef Blauhorn:
Kupelwieser, Leopold: Die Heiligen drei Könige, Inv.-Nr. 3768
Schnorr von Carolsfeld, Ludwig Ferdinand: Chamonix mit dem Montblanc, Inv.-Nr. 3769
To the heirs of Valerie Karplus:
Makart, Hans: Entry of Charles V. in Antwerp, Inv.-Nr. 4453
The painting was re-acquired by the Austrian Gallery Belvedere and re-catalogued.
To the heirs of Alice und Hans Rubinstein:
Romako, Anton: Porträt Berthold Winder, Inv.-Nr. 3802
To the heirs of Friedrich Spiegler:
Master of The Veit Legend: Winged altarpiece, Inv. No. 4851
The panel painting was re-acquired by the Austrian Gallery Belvedere and re-catalogued.
To the heirs of August Blumberg:
Zanusi, Jakob: Apotheosis of Holy Kajetan, Inv. No. 3902
To the heirs of Dr. Hermann Eissler:
Waldmüller, Ferdinand Georg: 4 Signboards for an apothecary: Hygieia, Hippokrates, Galen, Flora, Inv. No. 5621-5624
To the heirs of Dr. Ludwig Neurath:
Alt, Jakob: Die Cholerakapelle bei Baden, Inv. No. 3662
To the heirs of Max Mandl-Maldenau:
Krafft, Johann Peter: Portrait of a Man, Inv. No. 3400
To the heirs of Josefine Winter:
Hellmer, Edmund: Beethoven-Büste, Inv. No. 5956
To the heirs of Mary Wooster:
Raffalt, Johann Gualbert: Hungarian Herdsboy, Inv. No. 4342
To the heirs of Alice Kolb:
Danhauser, Josef: Ladislaus Pyrker, Inv. No. 4030
To the heirs of Marianne Nechansky:
Hans Gasser: Der Maler Carl Rahl, Inv. No. 5958
To the heirs of Alice and Carl Bach:
Trübner, Wilhelm: Still Life with Roses, Inv. No. 3666
To the heirs of Wilhelm Freund:
Feuerbach, Anselm: Medea on the Urn, Inv. No. 3704
Romako, Anton: Hungarian Barnyard, Inv. No. 3683
To the heirs of Max Roden (Rosenzweig):
Franz Wiegele, Frauenbildnis (Portrait Frau Z.), Inv. No. 3401
To the heirs of Franz und Helen Erlach:
Master of Großlobming: Pfennigberger Schmerzensmann, Inv. No. 6153
To the heirs of Otto Klein:
Daffinger, Moritz Michael: The Actor Josef Koberwein as Duke Alfons in Goethe's Tasso, Inv. No. 4319
To the heirs of Ernst Gotthilf-Miskolzy:
Friedrich Amerling: Mädchen mit Strohhut, Inv. No. 3657
To the heirs of Mahler-Werfel:
Munch, Edvard: Sommernacht am Strand, Inv. No. 3772
To the heirs of Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer:
Georges Minne: Kniende Knaben, Inv. No. 3869, 3870
To the heirs of Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer:
Gustav Klimt, Beech Forest / Birch Forest, 1903, Inv. No. 4283
Gustav Klimt, Adele Bloch-Bauer I, 1907, Inv. No. 3830
Gustav Klimt, Apple Tree I, 1911/12, Inv. No. 3342
Gustav Klimt, Adele Bloch-Bauer II, 1912, Inv. No. 4210
Gustav Klimt, Houses in Unterach am Lake Attersee, around 1916, Inv. No. 4209
To the heirs of Dr. Heinrich Rieger:
Egon Schiele, Meadows with Houses, Inv. No. 4326
To the heirs of Bernhard Altmann:
Klimt, Gustav: Portrait of a Lady, Inv. No. 5449
To the heirs of Gottlieb Kraus:
Markó, Carl: Sea piece with Ino and Melicerte, Inv. No. 5606
Pettenkofen, August von: Gypsy Wagon at a Ford, Inv. No. 3886
To the heirs of Leo und Elise Smoschewer:
Slevogt, Max: Conrad Ansorge at the Piano, Inv. No. 3794
To the heirs of Moriz und Otto Eisler:
Romako, Anton: Portrait of Countess Maria Magda Kuefstein, Inv. No. 3803
To the heirs of Hermine Lasus:
Klimt, Gustav: Farmhouse with Birch Trees, Inv. No. 5448
Klimt, Gustav: Lady with Feather Boa, Inv. No. 4415
To the heirs of Jenny Steiner:
Klimt, Gustav: Country House on Lake Attersee, Inv. No. 8983
To the heirs of Nora Stiasny:
Klimt, Gustav: The Apple Tree II, Inv. No. 5447
To the heirs of Clarice (Alphonse) Rothschild:
Auerbach, Johann Gottfried: Portrait of Empress Maria Theresa, Inv. No. 4259
Auerbach, Johann Gottfried: Portrait of Emperor Franz I Stephan von Lothringen, Inv. No. 4314
Donner, Matthäus: Venus and Adonis, Inv. No. 4261
Austrian painter circa 1770/80: Portrait of Emperor Joseph II, Inv. No. 4258
Pettenkofen, August von: Straw-loaded Wagon with Three Horses, Inv. No. 4553
Mollinarolo, Jakob Gabriel: Venus and the Dead Adonis, Inv. No. 5856
Mollinarolo, Jakob Gabriel: Venus and Adonis, Inv. No. 5857
The last two listed Baroque lead reliefs by Mollinarolo were re-acquired by the Austrian Gallery Belvedere and re-catalogued.
To the heirs of Louis N. Rothschild:
Amerling, Friedrich von: The Engraver Franz Xaver Stöber, Inv. No. 4262
Amerling, Friedrich von: Study of a Woman's Head, Inv. No. 4263
Schindler, Emil Jakob: Landscape with Water, Inv. No. 4267
Unterberger, Michelangelo (signed 1947 Troger): The Baptism of Christ, Inv. No. 4260
Restitutions recommended by the Advisory Council
Publications of the library to the heirs of Dr. Max Berger, Dr. Erich Arthur Bien und Dr. Eugen Herz.
To the heirs of Vally Honig-Roeren:
Waldmüller, Portrait of a Gentleman Dressed in Black, Inv. No. 3899
To the heirs of Wally Kulka:
Raffalt, Johann Gualbert: Two Hungarians with Two Horses in Puszta, Inv. No. 5596
To the heirs of Serena Lederer/Elisabeth Bachofen-Echt:
Grützner, Eduard: In der Klosterbibliothek, Inv.-Nr. 7983
To the heirs of Ella Lewenz:
Leistikow, Walter: Danish Parkland with Mansion, Inv.-Nr. 3971
To the heirs of Ludwig Mayer:
Grützner, Eduard: Allegory of Arts (4 parts of a ceiling painting), Inv. No. 7986-7989
To the heirs of Salomon Meisels:
Ruben, Christoph Christian: Blick in die Ferne, Inv. No. 4654
To the heirs of E. and A. Silbermann:
Maulbertsch, Franz Anton: Allegory On Galicia And Lodomeria, Inv. No. 3402
To the heirs of Alice and Carl Bach:
Schirmer, Johann Wilhelm: Studie zur Erfindung der Künste im Stamme Kains,/ Landschaftsstudie, Inv.-Nr. 3972