The Legal Basis of Art Lending under the English, French, German, and Polish Legal Systems – a Comparative Perspective

Paulina Gwoździewicz-Matan



This article discusses the issue of the contracts under which works of art are loaned with the purpose of being exhibited. It examines three legal regimes: German, French, and English. Even though the contracts that were analyzed in those systems all derive from the same tradition of the Roman concept of commodatum, there are differences in the regulations.
The first part of this paper describes the public law regulations in the field of art lending. It was necessary to determine how the movement of cultural goods is protected under German, French and English law. Further points present the private law regulations, especially the rights and obligations of the borrower and the lending museum as well as their responsibility in the case of a breach of the contract. Additionally, an outline of the Polish public law regulation is given in the last part of the paper.
The entire study is based on an analysis of the contracts that are used in routine museum practice. A comparison of the regulations of the three legal systems leads to the answer to the question of the legal nature of art loans.


art loans; gratuitous loan for use; movement of artworks; exhibitions

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