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'Mannheimer: an important art collector reappraised'

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Mannheimer: an important art collector reappraised


Kees Kaldenbach


November 2014


History of ownership from 1920-1952: From Mannheimer to Hitler; recuperation and dispersion in Dutch museums, based on archival documents. Main Collection: Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

In the years following World War II, more than 1400 art objects formerly belonging to the German-born banker Fritz Mannheimer (1890-1939) came into the possession of Dutch museums, especially the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum. Highlights of this remarkable collection include top-quality paintings by Rembrandt, Crivelli, Frans van Mieris, and Jan van der Heyden; German applied art objects of the highest quality; master drawings by Fragonard, Watteau, and Boucher; sculptures by Houdon and Falconet; best-of-kind furniture by Röntgen and classic French furniture makers; a world-class array of Meissen porcelain; exquisite silver and gold art objects, ornate snuff boxes and much else. Like many collections belonging to Jews who lived in countries occupied by the Nazis, the Mannheimer art objects were coveted by Adolf Hitler, Hermann Göring, and associated figures from the time of the German invasion of the Netherlands in May 1940. The subsequent ownership history of these extraordinary works of art, both during and after the war, sheds light on the conflicts, greed, breaches of the law, and lingering consequences of that dark and troubled era in world history. The Amsterdam Rijksmuseum had indeed been most enriched in 1952 by receiving the lion’s share of the Mannheimer estate.

In this article the following is presented: First, an outline of facts concerning both the legal ownership situation and physical storage of his art objects in three main phases: initial collecting, the enforced Nazi purchase and the post-WW2 recuperation and redistribution.

Second, a breakdown is presented of the 1400 Rijksmuseum Mannheimer objects into seventeen groups.

Last, in order to study reception history, monetary values are listed for thirteen of the most costly objects.

Then four annexes:
Annex 1: Mannheimer art objects distributed to other Dutch museums. Annex 2: Mannheimer art objects now in museums outside Holland. Annex 3: Mannheimer art objects as recuperated Jewish property. Annex 4: Mannheimer objects destroyed in the London Blitz, 1940.

The object of this article is to present the first in-depth archival study of the man and his art collection. Key biographical facts and third-party opinions about Mannheimer are also given.

To read the article, click here.


This Word version, 12 November, 2014, 9320 words

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