The lawyer and art historian René Schober started an extensive provenance research project at the "Gemäldegalerie" (Paintings Gallery) and the "Kupferstichkabinett" (Graphics Collection) of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna on January 1st, 2013 on behalf of the Commission for Provenance Research of the Federal Minister for Education, Arts and Culture. René Schober had worked previously at the Art Collection of the University of Applied Arts Vienna as a provenance researcher and scientific assistant for four years. Since his fields of expertise falls within provenance-focussed investigation of universities' art collections the project will profit from his professional experience.
The art-works of the "Gemäldegalerie" (Paintings Gallery) and the "Kupferstichkabinett" (Graphics Collection) of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna are property of the State of Austria. Due to that fact all works of art have to be investigated according to the Austrian "Kunstrückgabegesetz" (Law on Restitution of Art Objects) in order to determine if they had been misappropriated illegally during the NS-regime. As a first step, all works of art belonging to the collection of the "Gemäldegalerie" (Paintings Gallery) which had been generated before 1945 and were acquired after 1933 will be considered. First studying in-house sources such as inventories, archives, appraisal of art-works and literature will lead to a reconstruction of all their stations of provenance. As a second step, research will be expanded to various other libraries, archives and databases. All results will be documented in the gallery database. This will ensure a systematic, sustainable and comprehensible process of provenance research. On completion of provenance research at the "Gemäldegalerie" (Paintings Gallery), the collection of the "Kupferstichkabinett" (Graphics Collection) will be investigated.
If any unlawfully confiscated or expropriated works of art will be discovered, the process of illegal misappropriation will be documented in dossiers. Based on these dossiers the Advisory Board of the Federal Minister for Education, Arts and Culture will decide on the restitution of these works of art to their former owners or their legal successors.
For further information on provenance research of the State of Austria: http://www.provenienzforschung.gv.at