Mar 19, 2021

Suspicious provenance errors: Manet's Mellon

Mrs Kurt Riezler (née Käthe Liebermann, daughter of Max Liebermann) was previously mis-identified as Liezler

 Why does it matter? Because her family was persecuted by the Nazis and she herself was a refugee.


The Melonc. 1880

 Not on View


oil on canvas


overall: 46.67 × 56.52 cm (18 3/8 × 22 1/4 in.)

framed: 71.12 × 80.01 × 6.35 cm (28 × 31 1/2 × 2 1/2 in.)

Accession Number


Artists / Makers

Edouard Manet (artist) French, 1832 - 1883


Sold by the artist to M. Pertuiset, Paris; (his sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 5 June 1888, no. 3); bought by Isidore Bloch or Hermann Paechter, Berlin. Max Liebermann [1847-1935], Berlin, before 1925; his daughter, Mrs. Kurt Riezler [née Käthe Liebermann, 1885-1952], Berlin and later New York.[1] (Wildenstein and Co., New York); sold 1959 to Paul Mellon [1907-1999], Upperville, Virginia; bequest 1999 to NGA, with life interest to his wife, Rachel Lambert Mellon [1910-2014].

A misspelling can be innocent. But in the hands of a known Red Flag it can also be not so innocent. Prudence dictates verification. And also curiosity. 

Who was Mrs Riezler (aka Liezler)?
In which other artworks does her name appear?
Are there any other misspellings or other errors connected to artworks she once owned.
What was her fate?


Riezler in other provenances

Title: Madame Manet (Suzanne Leenhoff, 1829–1906) at Bellevue

Artist: Edouard Manet (French, Paris 1832–1883 Paris)

Date: 1880

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 31 3/4 x 23 3/4 in. (80.6 x 60.3 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: The Walter H. and Leonore Annenberg Collection, Gift of Walter H. and Leonore Annenberg, 1997, Bequest of Walter H. Annenberg, 2002

Accession Number: 1997.391.4

the sitter, Paris (1880–97; sold to Camentron); [Gaston-Alexandre Camentron, Paris, 1897; sold on February 1, 1897, for Fr 500, to Durand-Ruel]; [Durand-Ruel, Paris, 1897; stock no. 4035; sold on November 2, 1897, for Fr 2,000 to Hugo von Tschudi on behalf of Liebermann; Max Liebermann, Berlin (1897–d. 1935; one of fourteen paintings deposited on his behalf by Walter Feilchenfeldt, Zürich, at Kunsthaus Zürich, from May 9, 1933 to January 24, 1938); his widow, Martha Liebermann, Berlin, and/or their daughter, Mrs. Kurt (Käthe) Riezler (1935–38; painting remained at Kunsthaus Zürich until released to Riezler); Mrs. Kurt (Käthe) Riezler, Berlin, then New York (from 1938; probably sold to Rosenberg); [Paul Rosenberg, New York, until 1946; sold in February to Horowitz]; Mr. and Mrs. Vladimir Horowitz, New York (1946–72; consigned to Wildenstein in 1970 and sold on April 11, 1972 to Annenberg); Walter H. and Leonore Annenberg, Rancho Mirage, Calif. (1972–97; jointly with MMA, 1997–his d. 2002)

Title: Three Male Heads

Artist: Honoré Daumier (French, Marseilles 1808–1879 Valmondois)

Date: 19th century

Medium: Pen and black ink, red and brown wash, over black chalk; on beige paper, lined

Dimensions: Sheet: 4 3/16 x 8 9/16 in. (10.7 x 21.7cm)

Classification: Drawings

Credit Line: Bequest of Gregoire Tarnopol, 1979, and Gift of Alexander Tarnopol, 1980

Accession Number: 1980.21.10

Liebermann; Riezler; César de Hauke, according to K. E. Maison; Walter Feilchenfeldt, according to K. E. Maison; Henri Baderou (French), according to K. E. Maison; Grégoire Tarnopol


Title: The Fishermen (Fantastic Scene)

Artist: Paul Cézanne (French, Aix-en-Provence 1839–1906 Aix-en-Provence)

Date: ca. 1875

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 21 3/4 x 32 1/4 in. (55.2 x 81.9 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Gift of Heather Daniels and Katharine Whild, and Purchase, The Annenberg Foundation Gift, Gift of Joanne Toor Cummings, by exchange, Wolfe Fund, and Ellen Lichtenstein and Joanne Toor Cummings Bequests, Mr. and Mrs. Richard J. Bernhard Gift, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Rodgers, and Wolfe Fund, by exchange, and funds from various donors, 2001

Accession Number: 2001.473

Victor Chocquet, Paris (until d. 1891; bought from the artist); his widow, Marie Chocquet, Paris (1891–d. 1899; her sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, July 1, 3–4, 1899, no. 22, as "Les pêcheurs," for Fr 2,350 to Hessel); [Josse Hessel, Paris, from 1899]; [Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, until 1907; sold on July 18, for Fr 9,500, to Cassirer]; [Paul Cassirer, Berlin, 1907–9; stock no. 959, sold on Jan. 4, 1908 to Nationalgalerie, Berlin, for 16,310 marks (Fr 20,000), purchase never completed; returned to dealer on March 21, 1908, whereupon assigned new stock no. 1079, and sold on Jan. 26, 1909 for 13,200 marks to Liebermann]; Max Liebermann, Berlin (1909–d. 1935; one of fourteen paintings deposited by Walter Feilchenfeldt, Zürich, as agent, at Kunsthaus Zürich, from May 9, 1933 to October 19, 1936); possibly his widow, Martha Liebermann, Berlin (1935–38; painting remained at Kunsthaus Zürich, apparently until released to Riezler); their daughter, Mrs. Kurt (Käthe) Riezler, Berlin, until November 10, 1938, and New York, by 1939 (1938–d. 1952); her daughter, Mrs. Howard B. (Maria Riezler) White, Northport, New York (1952–d. 1995); her daughters, Heather Daniels and Katharine Whild (1995–2001)


Who was Mrs Riezler?

Käthe or Katharina Liebermann was the daughter of the Jewish artist Max Liebermann and his wife Martha. They were persecuted by the Nazis. Max Liebermann, died in 1935 and Martha committed suicide in 1943 just before deportation to Theresienstadt. Katharina fled to the USA in 1938.

"With the assumption of power by the National Socialists, however, the acceptance of the Jew Liebermann  ended. He lost his position as president of the Berlin Academy of Arts, which he had held since 1920. He resigned from his position voluntarily, but strongly influenced by the external influences of a world in which there seemed to be no more room for him. He died in 1935. Numerous Jewish companions gave him their last respects when he was buried in the Jewish Cemetery Schönhauser Allee, city officials, the press or members of the Berlin Academy were missing however.

His widow Martha continued living with the art collections in Berlin. In 1943, she commited – the deportation to the Theresienstadt concentration camp was imminent – suicide. The daughter Katharina Riezler had emigrated to the USA already in 1938. The Liebermann house at the Brandenburg Gate had been seriously damaged in the course of the war. Some works of art could be saved by the Swedish artist Anders Zorn and his wife Emma  by bringing them to Sweden. Most of the other works of art though were untraceable after the war. What happened to the art works in the collection Liebermann?

After the war, Katherina began to search for the art collection. Since the art of the Berlin public collections mostly found their way from a war-related outsourcing in a salt mine into the Wiesbaden Central Collecting Point in present-day National Museum, she asked here for her heritage. In her request for restitution of 1947 Katharina Riezler indicates that the Nazis have sold he entire contents of their apartment, meanwhile Graf Spee-Str. 23, Berlin, directly after Martha Liebermann’s death. At least some of these works of art Katharina namend in a list attached, including five of her father’s works, a drawing by Rembrandt, a larger number of prints by Daumier, as well as paintings by Corot, Daubigny, Degas, Monet and some arts and crafts.

From Lostart: Jüdische Sammler und Kunsthändler (Opfer nationalsozialistischer Verfolgung und Enteignung) Liebermann, Max

(Google Translate from the German) In 1933 the highly esteemed painter and honorary president of the Prussian Academy of the Arts Max Liebermann became a non-person. In view of the fact that the Akademie der Künste was brought into line, Liebermann resigned his honorary presidency in order to forestall the threatened dismissal. After his death in 1935, his widow stayed in Berlin. Martha Liebermann was subsequently subjected to massive harassment by the National Socialist regime.... After receiving the order to be deported to Theresienstadt on March 5, 1943, she took an overdose of sleeping pills and died on March 10, 1943. On October 18, 1941, she wrote: “I am 84 years old and until a few months ago never thought of emigrating. But the situation has now become unbearable for me and just as today's conditions were unimaginable, it is also impossible to suspect what can still happen. Every morning I thank fate that my husband did not live to see this time and that my daughter, husband and child, were able to leave this country ... ”.

 For more about Mrs Riezler aka Katharina Liebermann, please see: 

The Liebermann collection stored in the Wiesbaden CCP?

Artworks that mention Riezler in the provenance should be carefully researched. All the more so if the name is misspelled or otherwise distorted.

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