The Kunstmuseum Bern in Switzerland will return some works donated by the late merchant Cornelius Gurlitt, who a few years ago became the subject of one of the most publicized Nazi art thefts. most widely.
Gurlitt’s hoard of 1,600 pieces has been the subject of controversy since 2014, when it was added to the museum’s property following the dealer’s death that year. That treasury included works by Henri Matisse, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, and others, and Gurlitt inherited it from his father, an agent and museum director who had collaborated with the Germans. commune. The Bavarian authorities first learned of the cache’s origins two years ago during a tax investigation.
After a six-month deliberation, the Swiss organization accepted the collection in 2014. It signed an agreement with the German government and the Bavarian state government to return any work with a provenance record. suspicious, following the 1998 Washington Conference Guidelines on Art Confiscated by the Nazis.
The museum has now identified 29 works from Gurlitt’s cache of World War II origins that cannot be fully traced. For these works, the museum says, although there is no evidence that they were ever handled by the Nazis, recovered in a multi-year research effort, their ownership records still represents the “conspicuous situation”.
From this group, two watercolor paintings by Otto Dix, Dompteuse (1922) and Dame in der Loge (1922), will be returned jointly to the heirs to the German Jewish collectors Ismar Littmann and Paul Schaefer. Another five will be delivered to the German government. The remaining 22 works from this group will remain in the museum’s collection for further study. New findings related to them will be published in an online database on Gurlitt Collection managed by the museum.
“For the Kunstmuseum Bern, disposing of the legacy of Cornelius Gurlitt was and still is a huge challenge and everyone involved has tried to handle it correctly,” said museum director Nina Zimmer. in a statement. “I am especially excited about the international networks and collaborations in the field of provenance studies that have arisen over the past few years. This is the path we have to be steadfast on — we still have a lot of work ahead of us. ”
This is not the first time the Kunstmuseum Bern has parted ways with works it obtained through Gurlitt donations. By May 2020, 14 works in the collection, including paintings by Henri Matisse, Thomas Couture and Max Liebermann, had been identified as stolen and exchanged for descendants of the original owners. their heads.
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