Provenance Research

We made international news in 1998 for the restitution of a painting that had disappeared during World War II. The Bath of Bathsheba by sixteenth-century artist Jacopo Zucchi was purchased in good faith from a Paris art dealer, and lawfully exported from France to the United States in 1965. By 1997, we concluded that the painting had been stolen from the Italian Embassy in Berlin. In return for the Zucchi, the Italian government arranged to provide us with an unprecedented loan of major paintings by Caravaggio and other seventeenth-century Italian artists from the National Gallery of Art in Rome.

In 2002, through a significant gift from the Chase family of Connecticut, we began an in-depth provenance research project on its museum’s collection of approximately 50,000 objects of art. We followed the criteria established by the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), the American Association of Museums (AAM), and the Presidential Advisory Commission on Holocaust Assets (PCHA) in the United States to complete an initial review of the history of 257 European paintings by mid-2003.

The Chase family’s gift enabled us to hire two part-time research fellows to exclusively assist Eric Zafran, Susan Morse Hilles Curator of European Art on this important project. The gift also allowed for a subscription to the Art Loss Register, the leading international database of lost and stolen art, additional consultants and travel expenses as well as the digital photography costs.

The extensive investigation by the research fellows included attending conferences and trips to other institutions including the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles to access its immense provenance index with 900,000 records. We’ve devoted a section of our website to the provenance project since 2002, and 63 paintings that fall into the mandate of those created before 1946 and acquired after 1932, and possibly underwent a change of ownership between 1932 and 1946 and thought to have been in continental Europe between those dates, were photographed, digitized and submitted to the Nazi-Era Provenance Internet Portal.

Through research, we determined that one painting under scrutiny actually has a clear provenance:

Battista Dossi, Italian c. 1490-c.1542
Battle of Orlando and Rodomonte, c. 1527-1530
Oil and tempera on canvas
32 1/2 x 57 7/16 in.

The history of this early Renaissance painting has now been fully documented: the work, owned by Oscar Bondy of Vienna, was confiscated by the Nazis in 1938 during the occupation of Austria then on deposit at Hitler’s Fuhrermuzeum in Linz. Next, it was transferred to the Munich Checkpoint and eventually returned to the Bondy family and bought by the Wadsworth Atheneum in 1949 from Oscar Bondy’s wife, Elizabeth A. Bondy, at the Kende Galleries in New York.

Click here to view a list of works other works that are in question.

Ongoing provenance research on the listed works is posted periodically, in installments, and we welcome any further information on the provenance of these collection works that visitors to this website may be able to provide.

Please note that our archival records for all collection works are open, as they always have been, to serious researchers. For any information or queries on works on this list, please directly contact the Registrar’s Office by email. Images of works listed as in question are available by contacting the Collection Imaging Department at (860) 838-4101 or by fax at (860) 527-0803.

From Our Collection

1594, Caravaggio 1731, Canaletto 1749, Panini 1773, Wright

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