In 1927 the Frankfurter banker Hugo Kessler (1856–1929) stipulated by will that the Städel Museum was to receive his collection of artworks upon the death of his sister Anna Maria Laetitia Kessler (1863–1934). All in all, the collection comprised forty-two predominantly Baroque paintings. However, Kessler also revered younger artists, such as Carl Spitzweg and Carl Friedrich Lessing, as well as Wilhelm Busch, a personal acquaintance. In the spring of 1936 the Städel presented an exhibition of the entire Kessler-Kolligs bequest – Kolligs being the maiden name of Kessler’s mother.
Since 2001, the Städel Museum has systematically been researching the provenance of all objects that were acquired during the National Socialist period, or that changed owners or could have changed owners during those years. The basis for this research is the “Washington Declaration”, also known as the “Washington Conference Principles”, formulated at the 1998 “Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets” and the subsequent “Joint Declaration”.
The provenance information is based on the sources researched at the time they were published digitally. However, this information can change at any time when new sources are discovered. Provenance research is therefore a continuous process and one that is updated at regular intervals.
Ideally, the provenance information documents an object’s origins from the time it was created until the date when it found its way into the collection. It contains the following details, provided they are known:
The successive ownership records are separated from each other by a semicolon.
Gaps in the record of a provenance are indicated by the placeholder “…”. Unsupported information is listed in square brackets.
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