Art Theft – Art Market – Art Propaganda:
The material and ideological appropriation of Rembrandt under National Socialism
This research project, centering on the material and ideological appropriation of Rembrandt under National Socialism, analyzes the interdependence between propaganda and the trade in works by Rembrandt in the “Third Reich”, comparing this to the periods before and after the period of National Socialism. By exploring the documents such as the Julius Böhler archive in the Bayerisches Wirtschaftsarchiv, Munich, the Getty Provenance Index® German sales catalogues database 1930-1945, the database “Fold 3 – Holocaust Collection”, the Haberstock Gallery stock books 1933-1944 and the records of the G. Cramer Oude Kunst Gallery in the Getty Research Institute, the following questions will be addressed: Did the national appropriation of Rembrandt result in a price increase for his works during the “Third Reich”? What was the relation between supply and demand of his paintings in the period between 1933 and 1945? Was a lack of first rate works by Rembrandt after the outbreak of the war compensated by a supply of so-called “middle masters” of Dutch painting of the 17th century as suggested by the art price index published by Weltkunst in 1941? What was the effect of the occupation of the Netherlands and the abolition of the economic border with Germany on the trade in Rembrandt’s works? Who were the sellers, who were the buyers? Were the transactions official, clandestine or manipulated and was the art sold, seized or looted? Moreover, in the context of “business”, what function did the Rembrandt propaganda serve in the “Third Reich”, especially in the occupied Netherlands, and what were the consequences of this national appropriation after the Second World War?