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'Kunst und Profit. Museen und der französische Kunstmarkt im Zweiten Weltkrieg / Art et Profit. Les musées et le marché de l’art pendant la Seconde Guerre mondiale'

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Kunst und Profit. Museen und der französische Kunstmarkt im Zweiten Weltkrieg / Art et Profit. Les musées et le marché de l’art pendant la Seconde Guerre mondiale


Elisabeth Furtwängler, Mattes Lammert, eds


November 2022


Not only Adolf Hitler and Hermann Göring utilized the occupation of France during the Second World War to procure artworks for their collections ― German museums also made acquisitions at the time. The advantageous foreign exchange rate and the large range of artworks, for instance, from seized Jewish property, afforded favorable opportunities. French museums like the Louvre also expanded their holdings during this time. Many purchases by German museums were restituted to France in the postwar period, while some have remained in the collections until today and are first now becoming a focus of research. The essays in the volume from German and French perspectives analyze the similarities and differences in the activities of museums on the French art market during the occupation for the first time.

Preface by: Bénédicte Savoy and Gilbert Lupfer

Sections and chapters are listed below with summaries of each chapter beneath :


Am liebsten bliebe ich hier bis ans Ende meiner Tage.“ 
Hans Möbius und die Erwerbungen der Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen Kassel in Paris 1941/1942 
Justus Lange and Günther Kuss

Hans Möbius und das Martin von Wagner Museum der Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg 
Nora Halfbrodt 

„Auslandsankäufe“ für das Museum für Kunsthandwerk in Frankfurt am Main 
Katharina Weiler

Erwerbungen des regional- und landesgeschichtlichen Bomann-Museums Celle auf dem französischen Kunstmarkt 
Christopher Manuel Galler 

Kunstschützer und Kunstkäufer im besetzten Frankreich 
Felix Kuetgens und seine Erwerbungen für die Aachener Museen, 1940–1943 
Heinrich Becker 

„Die National-Galerie müßte unbedingt einen Corot haben“ 
Ein Ankauf auf dem Pariser Kunstmarkt finanziert aus der Verwertung „ Entarteter Kunst“ und ein Degas-Tausch während der Besatzung 
Mattes Lammert



Une exposition au musée du Louvre 
« Musées nationaux, Nouvelles acquisitions, 2 septembre 1939 – 2 septembre 1945 » 
Emmanuelle Polack 

Les acquisitions du musée national des châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon sur le marché de l’art français (1940–1944) 
Les acquisitions du musée national des châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon sur le marché de l’art français (1940–1944) 
Claire Bonnotte Khelil 



Auf „durchaus rechtmässige Weise aus Frankreich in den Schweizer Kunsthandel gekommen“? 
Die Pariser Sammlungsankäufe des Kunsthaus Zürich und die Rolle der Zwischenhändler, 1940–1945 
Joachim Sieber 

Was die Karteikarte von Böhler (nicht) verrät 
Zur Zusammenarbeit von Kunsthändlern und Museumsdirektoren am Beispiel einer komplexen „Tauschtransaktion“ 
Birgit Jooss 

Die Facetten der Vermittlungstätigkeit Adolf Wuesters für rheinische Museen 
Anna-Jo Weier



L’affaire des « Rembrandt Nicolas » (1942–1948) 
Lara Virginie Pitteloud 

Le personnel des musées et l’épuration du marché de l’art français (1944–1951) 
Ophélie Jouan 


Modigliani – Ein unbekanntes Frauenbildnis 
1949 angekauft durch die Landeshauptstadt Hannover – 1941 beschlagnahmt in Paris? 
Annette Baumann


1. Summary of Chapter: Am liebsten bliebe ich hier bis ans Ende meiner Tage.“ 
Hans Möbius und die Erwerbungen der Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen Kassel in Paris 1941/1942
- Justus Lange and Günther Kuss:

“I would prefer to stay here until the end of my days.” Hans Möbius and the acquisitions of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Kassel in Paris 1941/1942 Hans Möbius, archaeologist and vice director of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Kassel from 1928 to 1942, served as officer for the German Kunstschutz in France from 1941 to 1944. During this time, he acquired about fifty artworks and seventy art books in the Parisian art market in 1941 and 1942 for the collections in Kassel. They were mainly bought to be displayed in the newly built Landgrafenmuseum, a project of Prince Philipp of Hessen- Kassel, to commemorate the artistic heritage of his predecessors, the landgraves of Hessen-Kassel. These acquisitions were considered illegal after the end of World War II and most of the objects were restituted to France. Nevertheless, seventeen artworks and most of the art books remained in Kassel. This paper reconstructs the context of the acquisitions and the possible reasons why they were not restituted. In various statements from the 1950’s Möbius argued that the objects had been bought for a fair price and that the French dealers were not interested in their return. He also pointed out that his work at the Kunstschutz was in clear opposition to the plunder by the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg. In a 2020 exhibition, all of the artworks remaining in Kassel and their story were on display. All these objects are also listed in the Lost Art Database. Their provenance has to be researched in greater detail to determine whether there are indications of forced sales.

2. Summary of Chapter:  Hans Möbius und das Martin von Wagner Museum der Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg - Nora Halfbrodt

Hans Möbius and the Martin von Wagner Museum of the Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg As part of the research project “Systematic Provenance Research on the Acquisitions of the Martin von Wagner Museum (Modern Department) of the Julius Maximilian University of Würzburg after 1933”, funded by the German Lost Art Foundation (DZK), the history of the museum also came into the focus. In particular, the holder of the Chair of Classical Archaeology of several years, Prof. Dr. Hans Möbius (1895-1977), came into view, both in the context of object research and through his decisive commitment to the reconstruction of the war-damaged museum after 1945. Although Möbius enjoyed a reputation far beyond Franconia for his research and commitment to the museum, his activities for the Kunstschutz in France and his acquisitions in Paris between 1941-1944 paint a more ambivalent picture. In particular, his attempt to deliberately prevent acquisitions from being restituted to France after World War II by providing inaccurate information and asking colleagues not to publish the objects must be critically examined and questioned. The following article provides insights into the research on Hans Möbius, his activities in Kassel, France and Würzburg, as well as the state of research on his acquisitions on the French art market for the Würzburg University Museum.

3. Summary of Chapter: „Auslandsankäufe“ für das Museum für Kunsthandwerk in Frankfurt am Main - Katharina Weiler

"Foreign acquisitions” for the Museum of Arts and Crafts in Frankfurt am Main This essay investigates the entanglement between the Museum für Kunsthandwerk (today Museum Angewandte Kunst) in Frankfurt am Main and the French art market in Paris during the German occupation. As museum director from 1938 to 1948, Walter Mannowsky (1881-1958), made significant new acquisitions, not least by purchasing art objects in France (“Auslandsankäufe”) between 1940 and 1944 by order of the mayor of the City of Frankfurt, Dr. Friedrich Krebs (1894-1961). The mayor assigned hundreds of thousands reichsmarks to be spent on the acquisition of art objects in German-occupied Paris. During his travels to Paris, Mannowsky was at times accompanied by Dr. Ernstotto Graf zu Solms-Laubach (1890-1977), museum director of the Stadtgeschichtliches Museum (today Historisches Museum Frankfurt) and Dr. Ernst Holzinger (1901-1972), museum director of the Städelsches Kunstinstitut (today Städel Museum). In the endeavour to avail himself of the opportunities on the French art market, Mannowsky met with art experts and officers of the Kunstschutz in Paris, such as Franz Florentin Maria Graf Wolff-Metternich zur Gracht (1893-1978) and Dr. Hermann Bunjes (1911-1945), as well as members of the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, such as Dr. Günther Schiedlausky (1907-2003). Also, Mannowsky was assisted by art dealers on the ground, above all Rudolf Melander Holzapfel (1900-1982), as well as Dr. Hildebrand Gurlitt (1895-1956) who facilitated the transport of art objects from Paris to Frankfurt a. M. In this way, Mannowsky acquired not less than ca. 120 decorative art objects, and ca. 175 accessions for the museum’s graphic arts collection. The historic acquisition records provide evidence of relevant art galleries and the dates of acquisition, not to mention the transnational networks on the French art market during World War II. By command of the American military government in Hesse, the Museum für Kunsthandwerk returned ca. half of the newly acquired decorative art objects to the French government via the Central Collecting Point Wiesbaden in the post-war years. The other half remains in the museum till this date for different reasons as shown in the text. The provenance research for these objects is far from being completed. What still remains in the museum today of the graphic arts bought in Paris will have to be the subject of future provenance research.

4. Summary of Chapter:
Erwerbungen des regional- und landesgeschichtlichen Bomann-Museums Celle auf dem französischen Kunstmarkt -  Christopher Manuel Galler

Acquisitions of the Bomann Museum of regional history Celle on the French art market In 1941 and 1944 the Bomann Museum in Celle acquired works of art from France, by both direct and indirect means. In 1941 the Museum purchased a portrait of the Duchess Eléonore d’Olbreuse (1639-1722) from her descendants. Eléonore d’Olbreuse came from a French noble family and was the wife of the last duke who resided in Celle, George William (1624-1705). The purchase negotiations which began in 1938 failed, due to the asking price being too high. Following the German occupation of France the negotiations resumed and were successfully concluded in 1941. The archive protection officer Georg Schnath (1898-1989) from Hanover acted as an intermediary. Apart from this portrait the museum in Celle also wished to acquire a drawing of Duke Ernest the Confessor (1497-1546) from a series of portraits of German princes by Cranach, located in the museum of Reims. However this initiative failed as Otto Kümmel (1874-1952) refused to split up the series in case it would be confiscated and separate negotiations could not be conducted. In 1944 two Dutch old master paintings found their way to Celle indirectly. They had been acquired from the art dealer Hans W. Lange (1904-1945) in Berlin who had bought them from Cornelius Postma in Paris only a few weeks prior to the liberation. One of these paintings, attributed to Jan van Kessel, came from a collection which Postma had received as a reward for his participation in the confiscation of the noted collection of Adolphe Schloss (1842-1910). However as the artist attribution had changed it could not be identified after the war. The portrait of the Duchess Eléonore d’Olbreuse, however, could be identified and was restituted to France in 1947. An objection by the Municipality of Celle saw the portrait successfully reclaimed in 1954. In this particular case, the fact that the purchase negotiations had begun prior to 1940 proved to be decisive.

5. Summary of Chapter:
Kunstschützer und Kunstkäufer im besetzten Frankreich. Felix Kuetgens und seine Erwerbungen für die Aachener Museen, 1940–1943 - Heinrich Becker

Kunstschutz-Officer purchasing art in occupied France: Felix Kuetgens and his acquisitions for the museums of the City of Aachen 1940-1943 From 1940 to 1943 the art-historian Felix Kuetgens (1890-1976) was active as an officer of the German Kunstschutz in France. In his capacity as head of the museums of the City of Aachen he also bought a number of works of art on the prospering Paris art market during these years. Only after the war, possibly on a demand from the allied authorities, Kuetgens itemized these acquisitions - from his memory, and “to the best of his knowledge and belief”. According to the later and longer version of the resulting list, from June 1946, he purchased 75 objects for the City of Aachen (28 paintings, 15 sculptures and 32 pieces under the heading “arts and crafts”) for about 1.400.000 Francs. With regard to 13 of his acquisitions Kuetgens only mentions approximate selling addresses. For most of the objects, though, he names the sellers and often an address. The following of these sellers are also to be found among the so-called “Red Flag Names” compiled by the Art Looting Intelligence Unit of the US-american Office of Strategic Services: “Kunsthaus Bague [Bagues?]”, “Arno Breker”, “Kunstgewerbehaus Buvelot”, “Kunsthandlung Ducet [Doucet?]”, “Galerie Durand-Ruel”, “Cte de la Forret-Dyvonne [Forest-Divonne?]”, “Galerie Hugo Engel”, “Rud. Holzapfel”, “Kalebdijan-Frères”, “Kunsthändler --- Leegenhoeck”, “Albert Loevenich”, “Galerie Gustav Rochlitz”, “Broncegiesser Rudier”, “M. Arthur Sambon”, “Santo Bey de Semo […/ in the art gallery] André Schoeller” and “Adolf Wüster, Paris Deutsche Botschaft”. The majority of Kuetgens’ acquisitions was restituted to France or supposedly lost in the turmoils of the late war and early post-war period. However, today eleven of the purchases can still be identified in the collections of the City of Aachen. The present contribution investigates the said list, the acquisition practice in France and Kuetgens’ according attitudes with help of some further documents, not only from his time as Kunstschutz-Officer but also from - partly much - later years.

6. Summary of Chapter: „Die National-Galerie müßte unbedingt einen Corot haben“. Ein Ankauf auf dem Pariser Kunstmarkt finanziert aus der Verwertung „ Entarteter Kunst“ und ein Degas-Tausch während der Besatzung - Mattes Lammert

“The National-Galerie must have a Corot.” An acquisition made on the Parisian art market financed through the sale of “Degenarate Art” and a Degas-trade during the Occupation In 1941, the Berlin Nationalgalerie purchased the painting “Seine à Chatou”, 1885, by Camille Corot, which was by far the most expensive acquisition made by the museum during the Nazi era. The purchase price exceeded the entire annual budget and could only be financed through special funds stemming from the sale of “Degenerate Art”. This article argues that the work that was officially purchased from the Arnold Gallery in Munich, came in fact from Gallery Daber in Paris, where the museum had located it during the German Occupation. However, due to a lack of French foreign currency, payment was arranged through the Arnold Gallery. After the war, this financial arrangement allowed the director of the Nationalgalerie, Paul Ortwin Rave, to declare the acquisition as a purchase from Germany, thus preventing a possible restitution of the Corot to France. Another work that was brought from Paris to Berlin during the Occupation was the painting “Le Bal”, circa 1879, by Edgar Degas. It had previously been discovered in Paris by the director of the Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe and the Museum of Fine Arts Strasbourg, Kurt Martin, who acquired the painting with the ultimate objective of trading it in with the Nationalgalerie for works of art by German artists for his own museums. Unlike the Corot, the Degas was restituted in the post-war period and is now in the Musée d’Orsay as part of the so-called collection Musée Nationaux Récupération. This example shows how closely the history of acquisitions made by German museums is linked to the collections of French museums today. The common acquisition history yet different fate of the two paintings demonstrates that the reappraisal of the role of museums during the Occupation is by no means complete. Considering the complex entanglement between art theft and trade, the examination of potential loss due to persecution is a challenging issue that museums in both countries must investigate. While the considerable losses of the Nationalgalerie during the Nazi era, not least through the purge of “Degenerate Art”, have been studied in detail, less attention has been paid to the accessions from the Parisian art market during the Occupation of the same period - even though the Corot is still in the Nationalgalerie collection today.

7. Summary of Chapter: Une exposition au musée du Louvre. « Musées nationaux, Nouvelles acquisitions, 2 septembre 1939 – 2 septembre 1945 » - Emmanuelle Polack

An exhibition at the Louvre Museum: “Musées Nationaux, Nouvelles acquisitions, 2 September 1939-2 September 1945” In 1945-46, the exhibition “Musées Nationaux - Nouvelles Acquisitions, 2 septembre 1939- 2 septembre 1945” showed new acquisitions of French national museums between September 2nd, 1939 and September 2nd, 1945. Today, we are confronted with the delicate but fundamental question of the provenance of the selected works: How was it possible to accumulate so much wealth in these destructive times, which were marked by German raids and «Aryanizations»? This article aims to answer this very question. Visitors to the exhibition were able to admire numerous purchases as well as works that were the result of bequests and donations. But at the same time, they were likely amazed at what could be acquired under not only occupation but also more than difficult working conditions, under which the national cultural assets had to be both defended and enriched. The exhibition shown at the Musée du Louvre testified to the fact that the scientific staff of the national museums, in the darkest hours, successfully fulfilled the double task of saving public collections and increasing national cultural heritage. To demonstrate this, all the departments of the Louvre, as well as the Musée d’Art moderne, the Musée Guimet, the Musée des Arts et Traditions populaires, the Musée des Antiquités nationales, the palace museums of Versailles, Compiègne and Malmaison, and museums in the regions, were invited to select their distinctive pieces acquired during the war, including from bequests and donations. The exhibition ended on February 6th, 1946 without any mention of the provenance of the works acquired between 1939 and 1945. Yet on that very day, during the morning session of the Nuremberg Trials, the scope of the art looting that had taken place was made clear, and it was emphatically emphasised that it had been carried out systematically against the background of a total war of extermination.

8. Summary of Chapter: Les acquisitions du musée national des châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon sur le marché de l’art français (1940–1944) - Claire Bonnotte Khelil

The acquisitions of the Musée national des châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon on the French art market (1940-1944): Initial assessment and research perspectives Thanks to special financial credits offered to French national museums during the Occupation, the Musée National des Châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon collections became enriched, particularly between 1942 and 1943. The museum is currently conducting research on the provenance of these acquisitions purchased in Paris at public auctions at Drouot and by private negotiations, known in French as “de gré à gré”. Our investigation is particularly focused on the art market actors whom the museum worked with during the Second World War. This study details the sources we used for this research and analyses the main origins of the acquisitions made by the chief curator Charles Mauricheau-Beaupré and his collaborators for a total amount of more than 3 000 000 francs, a budget significantly higher than those for previous years. They bought mainly engravings and many frames for the museum’s portrait painting collection. Some exceptional pieces of furniture, as for example the famous “Mobilier aux épis” of Marie-Antoinette’s bedroom at the Petit Trianon, were also purchased in 1942. The acquisitions show the vitality of the Parisian art market at the time, which offered a substantial number of works of art for sale. In the now well-known context of spoliations from Jewish families, this research is still ongoing and requires utmost vigilance.

9. Summary of Chapter: Auf „durchaus rechtmässige Weise aus Frankreich in den Schweizer Kunsthandel gekommen“? Die Pariser Sammlungsankäufe des Kunsthaus Zürich und die Rolle der Zwischenhändler, 1940–1945 - Joachim Sieber

“Arrived in the Swiss art trade from France in a perfectly legitimate way”? - The Paris collection acquisitions of the Kunsthaus Zürich and the role of the intermediaries, 1940-1945 In the years 1940-1945, the Kunsthaus Zürich pursued a restrictive policy of purchasing works from abroad. The small number of purchases was mostly made through individual trusted art dealers active in Switzerland, such as Walter Feilchenfeldt or Fritz Nathan, who previewed the works locally. Thus, art dealers played a central role, and purchasing decisions were made based on their offers and recommendations. Of the approximately 200 paintings and sculptures that entered the Kunsthaus Zürich collection between 1940 and 1945, relatively few came from abroad, and only ten are known to have come from Paris collections or the Paris art trade. In this article the role of the middlemen is traced based on the example of recent findings on the provenance of two Renoir paintings which were acquired by the Kunsthaus in 1943 through the agency of Theodor Fischer, Fritz Nathan, and Charles Montag from Roger Dequoy, the then representative of the Wildenstein Gallery. Today we know that one of the two paintings was once in the collection of the Jewish art collector Marcel Kapferer who deposited it at Galerie Wildenstein in 1939, and the other painting could probably be matched to an entry in the stock book of the Parisian art dealer Raphaël Gérard. This article outlines how the two paintings then entered the collection of the Kunsthaus Zürich, why so many intermediaries were involved and how they also related to each other.

10. Summary of Chapter: Was die Karteikarte von Böhler (nicht) verrät. Zur Zusammenarbeit von Kunsthändlern und Museumsdirektoren am Beispiel einer komplexen „Tauschtransaktion“ - Birgit Jooss

What Böhler's index card (doesn't) reveal. On the cooperation between art dealers and museum directors, using the example of a complex "exchange transaction” Founded in 1880, the renowned Munich art gallery Julius Böhler maintained branches in Berlin, Lucerne, and New York. Particularly in the 1920s, Böhler established a well-connected network in Europe (including France) and the United States. In this respect, it is surprising that - contrary to all expectations - hardly any of Böhler's activities on the French art market during the occupation can be evidenced by the index card system of the gallery, kept at the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte. It seems that the dealer acted secretively and “undercover” with the help of business partners and intermediaries. The acquisition of three paintings in Paris in December 1943 is an example of such transactions, carried out as an exchange. The transaction took place covertly and in close exchange with Kurt Martin, director of the museums in Karlsruhe and Strasbourg. While the brief notes on the index cards by the art gallery partly require an explanation, related correspondence in the Bayerisches Wirtschaftsarchiv provides background and context for these transactions. Consequently, in addition to references to the Museum in Karlsruhe and Böhler’s business partner Karl Haberstock noted on the index card, several other players emerge such as Hans Wendland, his agent Achille Boitel, Ali (Allan) Loebl of the Garin art gallery, Hugo Engel, Carl Buemming and Hildebrand Gurlitt. Pieces of correspondence testify to how long the negotiations dragged on and that it was by no means a quick, uncomplicated deal. Based on this case study, the article draws attention on the one hand to asymmetrical power relations, market mechanisms, acquisition strategies, and profit margins. On the other hand, the article elaborates and reflects on what this gain in knowledge means for the status of archival documentation as such: Which roles do context and parallel traditions play? What opportunities and challenges (such as dealing with information gaps) do we face? What options do we have to seize the first and overcome the latter?

11. Summary of Chapter: Die Facetten der Vermittlungstätigkeit Adolf Wuesters für rheinische Museen - Anna-Jo Weier

The facets of Adolf Wuester's mediation work for Rhenish museums This article looks at the strategies applied by Adolf Wuester, the marchand amateur and later appointed Consul of the German Embassy in Paris, to assume an important role for certain German museums’ success on the French art market during the Occupation. Wuester’s role was clearly not that of an art dealer buying and selling his own stock of artworks, the understanding of his function as an art market actor needs to be broadened. By looking at his activities on behalf of German museums, especially the Kaiser-Wilhelm- Museum in Krefeld and its director Friedrich Muthmann, it becomes clear that he skilfully applied certain mechanisms allowing the handling of payments based on the dynamics of military occupation - all beyond the activity of merely seeking relevant art works or arranging contacts between buyers and sellers. Archival sources such as correspondence reveal that he wrote out checks for works he did not sell himself. Not only does he appear as a mediator, his dependency on having mercantile privileges to succeed in actually buying and exporting desired objects also becomes apparent. The challenges to fully grasp the quality and quantity of Wuester’s activity as an intermediary illustrate the importance of expanding object-related research on power dynamics, networks and the (varying) roles of art market actors, depending on their privileges and dependencies.

12. Summary of Chapter: L’affaire des « Rembrandt Nicolas » (1942–1948) - Lara Virginie Pitteloud

The “Nicolas Rembrandt” affair (1942- 1948) Based on a Master thesis entitled “Collecting Rembrandt from the Hermitage to the Louvre: the tortuous path of the two paintings from the Nicolas donation (1929-1979)” this article sheds light on two episodes of the collecting history of Rembrandt’s “Portrait of Titus” (1662) and “Landscape with Castle” (1640-42), both of which entered the Louvre Museum in 1948 as a “gift” from the French wine merchant and collector Etienne Marie Louis Nicolas (1870-1960). In April 1942, during the German Occupation in France, the two paintings were sold by Etienne Nicolas to the German dealer Karl Haberstock for the exceptional sum of 60 million francs (3 million Reichsmark), which made them the most expensive acquisition in the context of the Linz Museum project. Recovered in 1945 by the French authorities, the two paintings were the subject of three years of litigation between the collector and the Commission de récupération artistique, resulting in their donation to the museum by Etienne Nicolas. Through the analysis of hitherto unpublished sources related to this affair, this article aims to contribute to the understanding of the mechanisms of private sales during the Occupation, as well as to that of the attitude manifested by French national museums, in our case the Louvre, towards the recovery of “masterpieces” acquired by the German state from French individuals during the war.

13. Summary of Chapter: Le personnel des musées et l’épuration du marché de l’art français (1944–1951) - Ophélie Jouan

Museum staff and the cleansing of the French art market (1944-1951) As early as 1944, the Provisional Government of the French Republic undertook the judiciary cleansing of an art market that had flourished under the Occupation, with its influx of artworks from Jewish collections, sometimes looted, plundered, or sold under duress. Among other institutions created at the point of the Liberation, the Commission nationale interprofessionnelle d'épuration (CNIE), active between 1944 and 1951, was charged with investigating the collaboration of the main Parisian art dealers during the conflict. To carry out its mission, the CNIE called upon magistrates, judicial police inspectors, art experts involved in the recovery of looted works, and some museum staff. The CNIE also maintained relations with the Commission de Récupération Artistique (CRA; 1944-1949), which was responsible for recovering looted works that had crossed the French border after 1940. However, the CRA only employed the cultural professionals, mainly civil servants, primarily museum and library curators, academics, art connoisseurs and even collectors. The French artistic recovery and judiciary cleansing thus sometimes called upon the expertise of the same specialists. However, the links between these two large-scale undertakings remain unknown to date: for what purposes were directors, curators and other museum officials called upon? What was their legitimacy in intervening in the judicial process? What was their decision-making power? These are some of the questions that this article aims to answer.

14. Summary of Chapter: Modigliani – Ein unbekanntes Frauenbildnis. 1949 angekauft durch die Landeshauptstadt Hannover – 1941 beschlagnahmt in Paris? - Annette Baumann

Modigliani - An Unknown Portrait of a Woman. Purchased by the city of Hanover in 1949 - confiscated in Paris in 1941? In 1949, the regional capital of Hanover purchased 115 works of modern art from the former property of the real estate agent Dr. Conrad Doebbeke (1889-1954) in Berlin in order to fill the gaps in its collections dispersed during the war. This purchase included a portrait of a woman, “Tête de femme”, attributed to the Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920). Questions of provenance, however, remained open at the time. Due to a lack of sources, the circumstances of the acquisition and the provenance of the undated portrait of a woman could never be conclusively clarified, and since the 1960s its attribution to Modigliani has also been questioned by researchers. According to inventory records preserved in Paris and two historical photographs found in 2018, the painting was part of the holdings unlawfully expropriated in 1941 by the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR) in Paris by order of Hermann Göring (1893-1946). As a work of the avant-garde, it was used in exchange as a commodity for foreign exchange management. In 1942, it was sold to Gustav Rochlitz (1889-1972), a German dealer based in Paris. Rochlitz later told the Americans that the painting in question had been lost on its way to Baden-Baden in 1944. The article looks at the surviving documents relating to the confiscation, as well as at the dealer Gustav Rochlitz who was involved in the exchange of the portrait. Questions of attribution and identification are also addressed. Like other works of modern art, it was first presented in the Landesmuseum Hannover in the 1950s and transferred to the Sprengel Museum Hannover on its inception in 1979.

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  • Published: November 7, 2022
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