Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation returns sculpture to heirs of Felicia Lachmann-Mosse
The Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation (SPK) has returned the sculpture “Susanna” by Reinhold Begas to the heirs of Felicia Lachmann-Mosse. It has been identified as Nazi-confiscated property. The sculpture will initially remain on loan to the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, and is currently on display in the Alte Nationalgalerie.
The Mosse family owned one of the largest and most influential publishing houses of the Weimar Republic. Immediately after the National Socialists took power at the beginning of 1933, the family were subjected to repressive measures because of their Jewish faith. Felicia Lachmann-Mosse and her husband Hans emigrated to the United States in 1933. Their assets, including the art collection which Felicia had inherited from her parents Rudolf and Emilie Mosse, were placed under state administration. At the instigation of the Nazis, the art collection was sold at a forced auction in 1934.
It is believed that a Soviet Trophy Commission transported the sculpture out of Berlin in 1946. It was then returned from the Soviet Union to the Museum für Völkerkunde in Leipzig in 1956 or 1958, and in 1994 placed in the care of the Nationalgalerie of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. “Susanna” and other sculptures by Reinhold Begas have been on display in the permanent exhibition since the reopening of the Alte Nationalgalerie in 2001. It had not been possible to conclusively assign the artwork to a previous owner before now. Research carried out by the Mosse Art Restitution Project has now established that the sculpture was part of the Mosse collection until 1933 and must have been confiscated from the family as a result of persecution.
In 2015, the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation restituted eight works of art to the heirs of Felicia Lachmann-Mosse, all of which were identified during systematic provenance research on the collections of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.
The Mosse Art Restitution Project was established by Roger Strauch, the president of the Mosse Foundation, in 2012. It devotes itself to the worldwide search for cultural assets that originally belonged to the Rudolf Mosse collection and which were confiscated from his heirs by the National Socialists.