Website of the German Lost Art Foundation

Staatliche Graphische Sammlung in Munich returns watercolor by Rudolf von Alt to heirs of the original owner

Date 2016.11.30

The Staatliche Graphis­che Samm­lung in Mu­nich has to­day re­turned the wa­ter­col­or “Das Ar­beit­sz­im­mer des Kün­stlers” (The Artist’s Work­room) by Rudolf von Alt (1812–1905) to the sur­viv­ing rel­a­tives of the for­mer own­er. The paint­ing has been iden­ti­fied as Nazi-con­fis­cat­ed prop­er­ty. Be­tween 2011 and 2013, the Staatliche Graphis­che Samm­lung and the Zen­tralin­sti­tut für Kun­st­geschichte sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly re­searched the ori­gin of 617 draw­ings and wa­ter­col­ors by Jakob von Alt (1789–1872) and his son Rudolf von Alt (1812–1905). The project was fund­ed by the for­mer Bu­reau for Prove­nance Re­search (now the Ger­man Lost Art Foun­da­tion in Magde­burg). The resti­tu­tion is the re­sult of this re­search project.

The art­work dates from 1905. Fol­low­ing the death of von Alt in the same year, his heirs left the paint­ing to the son of a promi­nent Jew­ish man­u­fac­tur­er, Stephan Maut­ner, whom von Alt had taught to draw. Af­ter Aus­tria was an­nexed to the Ger­man Re­ich in March 1939, the Maut­ner fam­i­ly’s as­sets were con­fis­cat­ed and they were forced to sell some of their col­lec­tion to fi­nance their es­cape. Maut­ner and his wife em­i­grat­ed to Hun­gary in 1938, from where they were de­port­ed to Auschwitz and mur­dered in 1944. Their chil­dren man­aged to es­cape to the US.

The wa­ter­col­or came in­to the pos­ses­sion of Mar­tin Bor­mann, head of the Nazi Par­ty Chan­cellery and a close con­fi­dant of Hitler. In 1945, the Al­lies took the paint­ing from the repos­i­to­ry at Al­taussee salt mine to the Cen­tral Col­lect­ing Point in Mu­nich, where Maut­ner’s son sub­mit­ted a claim for it in 1947. How­ev­er, for rea­sons that are in­ex­pli­ca­ble to­day, it could no longer be found there. In 1956, the wa­ter­col­or was giv­en to the Min­is­ter Pres­i­dent of Bavaria and sub­se­quent­ly trans­ferred to the Staatliche Graphis­che Samm­lung in Mu­nich.

The Staatliche Graphis­che Samm­lung made con­tact with Maut­ner’s heirs in 2013. Maut­ner’s grand­chil­dren in the USA agreed to sell the art­work to the Ernst von Siemens Kun­st­s­tiftung, which in turn made it avail­able to the Staatliche Graphis­che Samm­lung in Mu­nich on per­ma­nent loan.

Staatliche Graphis­che Samm­lung München - Project "Rudolf von Alt" (on­ly Ger­man ver­sion)

Rudolf von Alt (1812-1905), Das Arbeitszimmer des Künstlers, 1905 Aquarell- und Deckfarben, 563 x 778 mm Rudolf von Alt (1812-1905), Das Arbeitszimmer des Künstlers, 1905
Aquarell- und Deckfarben, 563 x 778 mm Rudolf von Alt (1812-1905), Das Arbeitszimmer des Künstlers, 1905 Aquarell- und Deckfarben, 563 x 778 mm Source:  Staatliche Graphische Sammlung München