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"
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.
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