The Oetker Collection's press release states that the painting known as Frühling im Gebirge/Kinderreigen (Springtime in the mountains) by Hans Thoma was acquired by Oetker at public auction in 1954 and has been in the German Kunstsammlung Oetker (Oetker Collection) ever since.
Recently, it was identified by the Collection's provenance researcher as having been sold by Hedwig Ullmann in Germany in 1938.
Albert (1862–1912) and Hedwig Ullmann (1872–1945) were well- known Jewish art collectors, who acquired the Villa Gerlach in Frankfurt towards the end of the 19th century. As part of that purchase, the Ullmanns also became the owners of a series of wall panel paintings depicting the four seasons, which the previous owner had commissioned Hans Thoma to create. Mrs Ullmann emigrated from Germany in 1938 in the wake of Nazi persecution of the Jews and was forced to sell the painting as she emigrated.
The Kunstsammlung contacted, of its own initiative, the representative of the heirs who did not know the whereabouts of the painting. The Kunstsammlung advised them that the painting was in its possession and that it wished to return it to them on moral grounds. The heirs have gratefully accepted. The Board of the Kunstsammlung said it was delighted that the Ullmann family is being reunited with the painting.
The attorney representing the heirs, David J. Rowland, said: “Our clients want to acknowledge the commendable work of the Kunstsammlung Oetker. This is an outstanding example of a private collection doing the right thing regarding Nazi looted art and sets a standard of best practice in this field".
To read the press release issued by the Oetker Collection, click here.