The works of art stolen by the NazisPosted: March 28, 2014
This article originally appeared on the Telegraph online, March 28, 2014
The Nazis looted thousands of works of art from France, Poland, Greece, Italy, Russia and the Baltic states during World War Two. These are some of the best known works of art that have subsequently been rediscovered
Sitting woman, Henri Matisse
Sitting woman by Henri Matisse
Cornelius Gurlitt – whose collection was confiscated by German authorities in 2012 – is expected to return ‘Sitting Woman by Henri Matisse, to the descendants of the famous French-Jewish art collector, Paul Rosenberg.
The painting was stolen in 1941 from a safe in southern France, near Bordeux, where Rosenberg kept 162 pieces.
From here, Hitler’s deputy, Hermann Goering, took ownership. It ended up with the Gurlitt family, who bought “degenerate art” from Jewish collectors and museums.
It has been reported by the German daily, the Suddeutsche Zeitung that the painting will be shortly returned to Rosenberg’s relatives.
Mr Gurlitt was found to have hoarded more than 1,500 works of art for more than half a century. Investigators believe that others in the collection may have also been stolen by the Nazis.
Among the other paintings to be found in his collection was a painting of Waterloo Bridge in London by Claude Monet. Other paintings of a similar scene by Monet have sold for more than £5 million.
Woman in a Blue Dress in front of a Fireplace by Henri Matisse
Painted in 1937, Woman in a Blues Dress was purchased by art collector, Paul Rosenberg.
Rosenberg abandoned his collection when he fled France in 1940 following the Nazi invasion.
It was one of 162 works taken from his collection in 1941 by the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR), the Nazi organisation dedicated to appropriating cultural properly during the Second World War.
Art dealer Gustav Rochlitz, later acquired it and in 1947, he was convicted in France for dealing in Nazi looted art.
In 1950, a gallery in Paris sold the painting to shipping magnate Niels Onstad.
He has displayed it in his art centre near Oslo, the Henie Onstad Art Centre, since 1968, but recently agreed to return it to Rosenberg’s descendants.
Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I
The 1907 painting by Gustav Klimt was appropriated by the Nazis. It was commissioned by Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer.
His wife asked Ferdinand in her will for her husband to donate Klimt’s portrait of her to be donated to the Austrian State Gallery. She died from meningitis in 1925.
Her husband fled to Switzerland once the Nazis occupied Austria, and advancing German forces seized the painting.
Bloch-Bauer designated his nephew and nieces, as the inheritors of his estate.
However, the Austrian government retained ownership of the painting. It was eventually returned to the Altmann family in 2006, following a protracted legal battle.
It was then sold at auction for $135 million. This was the highest price of a painting sold at auction at the time. It is currently on display at Neue Art Gallery in New York.
The Astronomer by Johannes Vermeer
The 1668 painting by Dutch artist, Johannes Vermeer passed through several owners, before being eventually sold to the banker and art collector, Alphonse James de Rothschild.
After his death, his son Édouard inherited the painting. Nazis seized the painting from his hotel following the German invasion of France.
The painting was returned to the Rothschilds family after the war and was acquired by the French state in 1983. It has been exhibited at the Louvre ever since.
Amber Room, designed by Andreas Schlüter
Andreas Schlüter was German baroque sculptor and architect that lived at the end of the 17th century.
He began construction of the Amber Room in 1701, in partnership with Danish craftsman, Gottfried Wolfram. It was installed in the first King of Prussia, Friedlich I’s home, the Charlottenburg Palace.
The room was sculpted out of amber, and contained jewels, paintings, and gold.
As it passed through owners, several renovations took place on the Amber Room, and it eventually measured 55 square meters and contained over six tonnes of amber.
After taking control of Leningrad, the Nazis reached the Amber Room, and they dismantled it into 27 separate crates and sent it to Königsberg in East Prussia.
The area was heavily bombed by the Royal Air Force and the Soviet military. It has never resurfaced.
Some claim that it survived the war, while others believe that it was destroyed, or hidden in a lost bunker. In 2008, German treasure hunters claimed to have found the
Amber Room, but this could not be confirmed because of limited access to the site. A spokesperson for the Amber Room Organisation believes the treasure was transported to Saalfeld and hidden in an underground mining chamber.
Madonna of Bruges by Michelangelo
The marble sculpture of Mary with a baby Jesus was the only sculpture by Michelangelo that left Italy during his lifetime, after being bought by Giovanni and Alessandro Moscheroni in Bruges.
Nazis soldiers looted the sculpture, smuggling it to Germany hidden in mattresses in a Red Cross truck. It was found two years later in Austria and returned. Today, it is in the Church of Our Lady in Bruges.