This exhibition draws from recent research into the World War II-era provenance of six early modern European paintings from the Trees collection at Krannert Art Museum to examine the history of ownership. Exploring themes such as genealogy, documentation, attribution, and the perplexing problem of identifying unfamiliar collectors' marks, Provenance: A Forensic History of Art displaces the prevalent conception of forensic inquiry as a tool for crime scene investigation and relocates it from the laboratory to the art collection. Etymologically, a "forensic" investigation denotes the methodical examination and compilation of evidence for a public forum. Likewise, provenance research is a forensic method that reconstructs legal chains of ownership to establish an artwork's whereabouts from the moment of creation to its present circumstances.

This approach to art history yields rich and nuanced information about the lives of objects - information whose value lies not only in its legal significance, but also its ability to reveal the very personal journeys of artworks through the lives of collectors.

Guest Curator: Nancy Karrels, doctoral student in Art History.

Exhibition based on research supervised by Maureen Warren, curator of European and American Art.

Kinkead Gallery

Past dates

Download schedule


  • Starting Saturday, May 13th, 2017, repeated every day until Saturday, June 01, 2019 — all day


Krannert Art Museum

500 E. Peabody Dr.
Urbana, IL


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