Provenance research project on the art collection of Mosse


The project to trace the whereabouts of artworks once owned by Rudolf Mosse - The "Mosse Art Research Initiative“ - was publicly introduced on 7 March 2017.

Rudolf Mosse’s art collection consists of several thousand works, such as paintings, sculptures, books, decorative art objects and antiquitites and was mostly assembled during the 1880s and 90s. Along with the Mosse-family community of heirs under German law, researchers of the Freie Universität Berlin investigate the whereabouts of the works acquired by the National Socialists.

The Mosse Art Research Initiative (MARI) is unique in being the first public-private provenance research partnership.The project is being jointly funded by the Mosse family heirs and the Deutsche Zentrum Kulturgutverluste (German Lost Art Foundation).

In the project partnership, the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz is represented by the Zentralarchiv (Central Archive) of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, which coordinates the museums’ provenance research. It provides the MARI projects with all of their research findings. The Zentralarchiv, with its extensive holdings of official files, bequests and other documentary material, is also an indispensable source of information about the Berlin art trade and the connections between museums and private collectors - as well as for Mosse's art collection.

Research on the Mosse Collection

In recent years, nine artworks from the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin have been returned to the heirs of Felicia Lachmann-Mosse. The Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz stumbled upon the works in the course of a systematic investigation of its collections, and had begun to look for possible heirs when they were contacted by the Mosse Art Restitution Project. Following the restitution of eight works in 2015, another was returned in 2016:

  • the sculpture Reclining Lion by August Gaul, 1903, Nationalgalerie
  • a Roman sarcophagus with depictions of Erotes, late 2nd century BC, Antikensammlung
  • a sacrificial basin, probably 5th dynasty, limestone, Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung
  • a Canopic jar, probably 26th dynasty, alabaster, Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung
  • two lions on quadratic lotus plinths, Qianlong era (1736–1796), stone, Museum für Asiatische Kunst
  • two reclining/half-standing greyhounds, affixed to plinths, 19th C., marble, Museum für Asiatische Kunst
  • Reinhold Begas: Susanna (sculpted 1869, made in marble in 1870-72; 127 x 91 x 67 cm), Nationalgalerie

Other participants in this project include the Kulturstiftung der Länder, the Jewish Museum Berlin Foundation, the Landesarchiv Berlin, as well as numerous other institutions across Germany. The Mosse Art Research Initiative (MARI) is funded by the German Lost Art Foundation in Magdeburg and the heirs of the Lachmann-Mosse family.