0289 The Patronage of Berlin’s Egyptian Museum by German-Jewish Press Tycoon Rudolf Mosse (1843–1920) and the Sequestration of His Art Collection during the "Third Reich"

  • Thomas L. Gertzen (Author)
    Freie Universität, Berlin

    Thomas L. Gertzen is research coordinator of the DFG Kollegforschungsgruppe 2615 “Rethinking Oriental Despotism” at Freie Universität Berlin, as well as a visiting scholar at the Seminar for Egyptology and Coptology at Göttingen University. For years, he has published extensively on the history of Egyptology, with a particular focus on the role of Jewish scholars. From 2014 to 2019 he was a research fellow at the Moses Mendelssohn Center for European-Jewish Studies in Potsdam.

  • Jana Helmbold-Doyé (Author)
    Ägyptisches Museum – Georg Steindorff – Universität Leipzig

    Jana Helmbold-Doyé has been custodian of the Ägyptisches Museum – Georg Steindorff – at the University of Leipzig since the beginning of 2023, after ten years as curator at the Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. She holds a PhD in Egyptology and expressed her interdisciplinary interests in the context of her dissertation on Ptolemaic tombs in Alexandria. Her further fields of research are the history of the Egyptian collection in Berlin as well as other collections, and the ancient cultures of Nubia, on which she has produced comprehensive publications.

Identifiers (Article)


The publishing tycoon Rudolf Mosse (1843–1920) donated over 700 objects to the Egyptian Museum in Berlin between 1892 and 1894, among them the Green Head from a royal statue of Amasis (ÄM 11864). Most had been acquired on the antiquities market by Egyptologist Heinrich Brugsch (1827–1894) during his journey to Egypt in 1891–1892, which was financed by Mosse. Leaving aside postcolonial discourse regarding the appropriation of ancient Egyptian artifacts by European travelers and scholars, this case study highlights another important and long-neglected aspect of the early history of German Egyptology: patronage or private support provided by Jewish entrepreneurs. Only recently a wider public was reminded of the engagement of James Simon (1851–1932), the most significant sponsor of the Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft (German Oriental Society), whose gifts to the Egyptian Museum in Berlin included the painted bust of Queen Nefertiti. This article—which is based on the findings of a multi-author volume published jointly by the Moses Mendelssohn Center for European-Jewish Studies in Potsdam and the Egyptian Museum in Berlin—discusses the prehistory of the seizure and sale of Mosse’s private art collection in 1934, including Egyptian antiquities, and the attempted damnatio memoriae of him. The goal is to open a discussion with a broader, more complex approach, employing strategies of provenance research, to document the efforts and achievements of Jewish patrons of the arts and thus avoid their reduction to victims.


Rudolf Mosse, Heinrich Brugsch, patronage, provenance research, history of Egyptology, postcolonial studies, Jewish history, anti-Semitism