From Albrecht Dürer, Eugène DelacroixClaude Monet and Auguste Renoir to Otto Dix and Emil Nolde: almost a third of about one and a half thousand works of art, hoarded by reclusive Cornelius Gurlitt, a son of a Nazi art dealer, in his appartments in Munich and Salzburg for many decades, are going on show in the museums of Switzerland and Germany.

The exhibitions featuring 450 works started almost simultaneously at the beginning of November 2017 in the Kunstmuseum Bern (Switzerland) and the Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn (Germany).



Painting by Franz Marc. 1912. Photo: Wall Street Journal (www.wsj.com)

Detail of a painting by Auguste Renoir. Photo: Madeleine Schwartz. Source: artdaily.com


The expositions have similar names, but each represents its own aspect.

The exhibition in Switzerland 
is called "Gurlitt: Status Report. Degenerate Art” – Confiscated and Sold. It presents about 200 works by the artists whose oeuvre the Nazis considered unworthy and even dangerous. Ill luck came to Expressionists and Constructivists, among whom were artists such as Franz Marc, Otto Dix and Emil Nolde. Their works were seized and destroyed. The exhibition will last from November 2, 2017 to March 4, 2018.

The exhibition in Germany
is named "Gurlitt: Status Report. Nazi Art Theft and its Consequences". It presents more than 250 works. German curators have focused on the history of Jews – the collectors and antique dealers – who were victims of looting. In Bonn, visitors can see the works of the Old Masters, as well as Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. The exhibition is open from November 3 to March 11.

After the end of the display the Kunstmuseum and the Bundeskunsthalle will exchange their expositions.

A visitor at the painting by Rubens. Source of the photo: reutersmedia.net


Now that we got acquainted with some of the works from the Gurlitt collection represented at the exhibitions, let us recall the main facts connected with the largest discovery of artworks in the entire period after the World War II.



Ekkehard Gurlitt, cousin of Cornelius Gurlitt, at the exhibition in Bonn, in front of a work by Ferdinand Waldmüller, one of the most famous Austrian artists of the first half of the 19th century. Photo: Reuters/Wolfgang Rattay. Source: reutersmedia.net




A work by an outstanding German Expressionist Otto Müller, a member of "The Bridge" group, shown during a press conference.
Photo: Arnd Wiegmann 






Works by Emil Nolde in the exposition.
Photo above: www.reuters.com.
Photo below: www.timesofisrael.com


Works by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Photo: Peter Klaunzer/Keystone via AP.
Source: www.timesofisrael.com/


An engraving by Albrecht Dürer. 1513.
Photo: Madeleine Schwartz. Source: artdaily.com

Альбрехт Дюрер. Рыцарь, Смерть и Дьявол
Рыцарь, Смерть и Дьявол
Альбрехт Дюрер
1513, 25×19 см

A work by Otto Griebel (1895–1972). 1926.
Illustration source: www.bundeskunsthalle.de

A work by Otto Dix.
Photo: Wall Street Journal (www.wsj.com)


A work by Conrad Felixmüller. 1921.
Photo source: www.facebook.com/IRequireArt

A work by Max Beckmann. 1934. Photo: www.bundeskunsthalle.de


A work by Paul Klee. 1920.
Photo: Wall Street Journal, www.wsj.com


A work by Edvard Munch. 1899.
Photo: Mick Vincenz/Bundeskunsthalle Bonn. Source: www.theguardian.com


A work by Edvard Munch. Photo source: instagram


Claude Monet. Waterloo Bridge, London. 1903.
Photo: David Ertl/Bundeskunsthalle Bonn. Source: www.theguardian.com


The oil painting "Waterloo Bridge, London” (1903, the illustration above) was estimated at 13 million dollars. The total cost of the works from the Gurlitt collection is valued in fantastic amounts. The pressmen most often estimate the collection at a billion euro.

Camille Pissarro
. Street in the Evening.
Photo: Mick Vincenz/Bundeskunsthalle Bonn. Source: www.theguardian.com


Above: details of paintings by Paul Signac, Camille Corot, Claude Monet, Max Lieberman, Edouard Manet presented at the exposition of the Museum of Bonn. Source: www.bundeskunsthalle.de



A work by Auguste Rodin. 1882.
Photo: Bundeskunsthalle Bonn. Source: www.theguardian.com

A work by Eugène Delacroix. Photo source: lostart.de


It should be recalled that the information on the secret trove was made public in 2013 during a financial investigation. A year earlier, during a customs check in a train, the officers found 78-year-old Cornelius Gurlitt who carried 9,000 euro in cash, which was somewhat higher than the allowable amount. It seemed strange to the officers that the elderly person had no legal income source or pension, and social and tax services contained no data on him.

The investigators received a warrant to search the Gurlitt's apartment in Munich. They found almost 1,500 works of art, including those by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Marc Chagall, Emil Nolde, Paul Klee, Oskar Kokoschka and many others.

A collage of the painings found at Cornelius Gurlitt's house.
Source: The New York Times


1.1. The Munich apartment where Cornelius Gurlitt stored the trove. Photo: Michaela Rehle / Reuters
1.2. Cornelius Gurlitt leaving the house in Munich, where officials discovered more that 1200 works. Photo: The New York Times

Hildebrand Gurlitt, the father of Cornelius, collected the works during the Nazi rule. On Goebbels' instructions, he sold the so-called "degenerate art" abroad at that time. After the war, the art dealer managed to convince the allies that the entire collection was lost under a bomb attack, and he was persecuted himself. In the photo, the second from the left is Hildebrand Gurlitt. Photo source: Vanity Fair

Анри де Тулуз-Лотрек. Афиша "Японский диван"
Афиша "Японский диван"
Анри де Тулуз-Лотрек
1893, 80.8×60.8 см

Shortly before his death in 2014, Cornelius Gurlitt bequeathed all the works to the Bern Museum of Fine Arts (Kunstmuseum). The museum planned to show the collection to the public in the spring of 2017, but Uta Werner, Gurlitt’s cousin, tried to dispute his will. She insisted that Cornelius suffered from a mental disorder, and could not dispose of his property adequately; moreover, he allegedly was obsessed with saving the pictures from the Nazis, which made him bequeath them to Switzerland, not Germany. However, the Munich court ruled in favour of the Bern museum.

Left: copies of the poster by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec "Le Divan Japonais" (1898) from the collections of the artist's museum in Albi, the Metropolitan Museum in New York and the "Gurlitt collection".


Certainly, the collection remains the subject of investigations, in particular, about the origin of the works: the German authorities try to find out which of them were seized by the Nazis or sold under duress. At the moment, there are only five legitimate owners of paintings found by the working group. The German government has allocated 7.6 million dollars to find information about the former owners of the works and their heirs.

"Woman with a Fan (Seated Woman)" by Henri Matisse is one of the paintings that found the legal owners. In the photo: Christopher Marinello, a lawyer of the Rosenberg family, examines the canvas in May 2015 before it was returned to the heirs of the Nazism victims.
Photo: AFP Photo / Wolf Heider-Sawall

The heirs of Paul Cezanne claim to return this magnificent and quite large (73x91.5 cm) work by the great artist to the family collection. The painting was discovered behind a wardrobe in the apartment of Cornelius Gurlitt in Salzburg in 2012. This is one of the views of the Mount Saint Victoire. Illustration: www.srf.ch


Otto Müller. A painting called "Maschka" at the restoration studio of the Swiss Museum.
Photo: AFP Photo / Fabrice Coffrini. Source: www.yahoo.com

A visitor looks at a work of the exposition. Bern, Switzerland.
Photo: Peter Klaunzer / Keystone via AP. Source: www.timesofisrael.com

The German Lost Art Foundation specialists (www.lostart.de) are currently researching 1,039 works from the Gurlitt collection. The work will continue till December. At the moment, you can follow this link to find an illustrated catalog of the discovered works with brief information about them.

The researcher at work: the paintings authorship and provenance identification.
Photo: AFP Photo / Fabrice Coffrini. Source: www.yahoo.com

Along with pictorial, graphic and sculptural works, in the exhibition halls, visitors can see information on the fate of the collectors from whom the Nazis seized the works.


At the Bern exhibition.
Photo: Peter Klaunzer/Keystone via AP. Source: www.timesofisrael.com


The organizers of the exhibitions in Bern and Bonn sincerely hope that the public show will help to find the heirs of the former owners of the artworks, and thus the historical justice will be restored, the works will return to family collections.



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Cover photo: Otto Griebel. Hippodrome in St. Pauli. 1923. Watercolour, 34,8 × 48 cm. Illustration source:   www.facebook.com/IRequireArt