Sep 28, 2023

Lady with a Fan, Lady with a False Provenance


Why did the National Gallery of Victoria originally list a "Dr. Grunden of Hamburg" in the provenance of this 17th century painting by Gerard ter Borch, Lady with a Fan

When Max Emden's grandson, Juan Carlos Emden, found, in Australia, the painting that had belonged to his family before Hitler came to power, he knew the provenance was wrong.

Instead of Emden, the NGV listed a Dr Grunden of Hamburg.
The 75-year-old wrote to the gallery claiming “Dr Grunden” had been written in error when the painting’s provenance should display the name of his grandfather, “Dr Max Emden”.  - The Australian

How does a "typographical error" transform Emden into Grunden?  When was the error made and by whom? Are there any other typographical errors of this type at the National Gallery of Victoria?
The NGV has since corrected the provenance to remove Grunden and include Max Emden. As of Sep 28 2023 the listing on the NGV webste for Lady with a Fan reads:
With J. B. van den Bergh (dealer, d. 1833), AmstEarly and Modern Dutch painterserdam, by 1833; probably J. B. van den Bergh sale, Amsterdam, 15 July 1833, no. 242; included in exhibition of Early and Modern Dutch painters, Guildhall Gallery, London, 1903; collection of Martin Rikoff, Paris, by 1907; Martin Rikoff sale, Galerie Georges Petit, F. Lair Dubreuil (auctioneer), Paris, 4-7 December 1907 (sold 4 December), no. 22; from where purchased by Galerie F. Kleinberger (dealer), Paris, 1907; collection of Martin and Eleanore Bromberg (neé Kann, d. 1918), Hamburg, by 1913[1]; collection of Dr Max J. Emden (1874–1940), Hamburg, prior to 1938; possibly purchased by Ali Loebl (of Galerie F. Kleinberger), Paris by 1938; half interest acquired by Wildenstein & Co. (dealer), London, 1938–44[2]; purchased from Wildenstein & Co., on the recommendation of Daryl Lindsay, for the Felton Bequest, 1945.
The NGV refuses, however, to return the painting to the Emden heirs.
(Readers knowledgeable about Nazi-era provenances will immediately recognize the name that follows Emden, Ali Loebl, as an Art Looting Investigation Unit Red Flag Name, mentioned 14 times in the official 1946 Final Report authored by the OSS intelligence unit.

The combination of 

1) provenance errors and  

2) ALIU Red Flag Name in the provenance of an artworks owned by a 

3) Jewish collector who was plundered and forced into exile by the Nazis 

is an invitation to dig deeper. 

More information

For more examples of provenance errors, see: Lies Provenance Researchers Told
For more information about provenance errors, their sources and their impact, see YouTube videos

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