Nov 14, 2022

Wolfgang Gurlitt's Nazi looted art

 View of Krumau, 1916, by Egon Schiele December 2002

The Austrian city of Linz agreed to return a landscape by Egon Schiele to the heirs of the pre-war owner, Daisy Hellman. The Gestapo seized the picture after Ms. Hellman left Austria following the Anschluss. A German collector named Wolfgang Gurlitt bought the picture at auction in 1942 and sold it, along with the rest of his collection, to the city of Linz in 1953.

Lesser Ury, The Seamstress (Die Naeherin), Oil on canvas, 52.1 x 41.9 cm
 (Holocaust Claims Processing Office, The Louis Löwenthal Collection)öwenthal_collection

"The Seamstress" by Lesser Ury, owned by the German Jewish art collector Louis Loewenthal, was confiscated by the Nazis in 1939-40 and acquired by Wolfgang Gurlitt.

"A pro-Nazi dealer falsely claimed years later that "The Seamstress had been destroyed in an Allied air raid. After the war, he sold it to the municipal museum in Linz, Austria.

The Times-Tribune, 13 July 1999

Jean Baer, a Jewish art collector in Berlin, owned this painting by Lovis Corinth, entitled "Matrose (Sailor"). His widow, Ida Baer was deported to Theresienstadt in August 1942.  Wolfgang Gurlitt got hold of their painting somehow and donated it to the Lentos museum in 1953.

It was restituted to the Baer heirs in 2015.

Provenance published by Sothebys in 2015

R. Brackl, Munich

Fritz Dägling, Königsberg

Heinrich Thannhauser, Munich (1859-1935, founder of Moderne Galerie Thannhauser in 1909 and proponent of avant-garde art, notably Kandinsky, Klee and Franz Marc) 

Jean Baer, Berlin

Wolfgang Gurlitt, Munich (1888-1965, gallerist, art dealer and collector)

Neue Galerie / Lentos Museum, Linz (purchased from the above in 1953)

Restituted to the heirs of Jean and Ida Baer in 2015


for more about Wolfgang Gurlitt, see:

An Austrian museum is coming to terms with the tainted legacy of its first director and founding collector, Wolfgang Gurlitt, a dealer in Nazi-looted art

Austrian exhibition to reveal story of Wolfgang Gurlitt, art dealer for the Nazis turned museum director 

by Catherine Hickley, The Art Newspaper 13 March 2019

Lentos Kunstmuseum in Linz confronts the legacy of its controversial first director, cousin of Hildebrand Gurlitt

Linzer Kunstmuseum Lentos restituiert drei Kunstwerke

Gemälde von Lovis Corinth und Emil Nolde werden vor der Rückgabe werden sie noch bis 11. Jänner ausgestellt

21. November 2014, 12:55  Der Standard

(translated into English with Deepl)

Linz Art Museum Lentos restitutes three works of art

Paintings by Lovis Corinth and Emil Nolde to be exhibited until January 11 before being returned

November 21, 2014, 12:55  

Linz - The Linz Art Museum Lentos will restitute two works of art by Lovis Corinth and one by Emil Nolde. This was decided by the city council. Before they are returned, they will be exhibited for the last time until January 11. This was announced by the museum on Friday.

The three paintings are the "Maiwiese" (May Meadow) by Emil Nolde and "Othello" (The Moor) and "Schwabing" (View from the studio window) by Lovis Corinth. Provenance research revealed that the Maiwiese originally belonged to Otto Siegfried Julius, a physician living in Hamburg. Because of his Jewish origins, he was persecuted by the Nazi rulers and fled Germany in September 1938. He tried to send his art collection to Switzerland. On the way of transport, however, its trace is lost. The painting subsequently came into the possession of a Salzburg gallery owner, from whom the city of Linz acquired it in November 1953.

The two paintings by Lovis Corinth were owned by the Berlin commercial judge, merchant and art collector Jean Baer and, after his death in 1930, by his widow Ida Baer. Between 1939 and her deportation to Theresienstadt in August 1942, where she died in the same year, the woman lost control of the art collection. The further whereabouts of the artworks remain unknown, as does the time at which Wolfgang Gurlitt came into possession of them. When he sold part of his collection to the city of Linz in 1953, as part of the founding of the city's New Gallery, the two paintings were among them. Wolfgang Gurlitt is a relative of the art collector Cornelius Gurlitt, who died this May and who for months was at the center of a heated debate about looted art.

The results of this research have led to the conclusion that the works must be returned in accordance with the Austrian Art Restitution Act. All three works are therefore to be handed over to the heirs at the beginning of the coming year. Until all formalities and transport preparations have been completed, the paintings will be exhibited in a room of the current collection presentation from next Tuesday until January 11, 2015. Following research into the provenance of the Lentos collection, the City of Linz has restituted or settled a total of ten paintings since 1999. (APA, 21.11.2014)

Translated with (free version)

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