Saarland Cultural Heritage Foundation gives works by Max Slevogt back to the heirs of Julius Freund
The Saarland Cultural Heritage Foundation has given several works by Max Slevogt back to the heirs of the rightful owner, Julius Freund. Since 2015, the German Lost Art Foundation has been supporting systematic research into the provenance of the Saarbrücken holdings. This restitution is based on this research.
The restituted works by Max Slevogt came into the Saarland Museum Modern Gallery’s possession in 1982 with the Kohl-Weigand collection. They were originally part of a high-quality collection of predominantly German paintings and prints from the 19th century amassed by the businessman and private collector, Julius Freund.
Because of their Jewish origins, the Freund family were persecuted by the Nazis after January 30, 1933. In September 1933, Julius Freund arranged the transportation of his art collection to Switzerland, in order to prevent the Nazis from gaining direct access to it. The family succeeded in emigrating to London shortly afterwards. They had previously been compelled to make all the payments that were imposed on Jewish citizens, such as the “Judenvermögensabgabe” (Jewish property tax) and the “Reichsfluchtsteuer” (emigration tax). Practically destitute, the Freunds were bombed out in September 1940 in England, and Julius Freund suffered a stroke which left him paralyzed from then on. He died in 1941 in the workhouse infirmary in Wigton. After his death, economic hardship meant his widow, Clara Freund, was forced to put the extensive art collection up for auction at Galerie Fischer in Lucerne, Switzerland. Parts of the collection were acquired at this auction on March 21, 1942, by Adolf Hitler’s special representatives for the creation of the “Führer Museum” in Linz. In its recommendation from January 2005, the Advisory Commission on the return of cultural property seized as a result of Nazi persecution classified the auctioning of the Freund collection as a persecution-related loss.
After the Saarland Cultural Heritage Foundation discovered the troubled history of the aforementioned Slevogt works during the course of its research, it actively approached the descendants of the Freund family, who live in Canada, with the aim of jointly reaching a fair and just solution. It also made the objects part of the collection presentation “Bilder/Schicksale” (Pictures/fates), which presents and explains the findings of provenance research activities at the Saarland Museum. Thanks to the generosity of the Freund family, it was possible for all of the works to be bought back and thus preserved for the Saarland Museum’s collection with its prominent focus on Slevogt. This means they will also remain accessible to the public and to researchers.
The ensemble of works consists of a painting, four drawings and a watercolor:
- Francisco d’Andrade (head study), 1902, oil on canvas
- Der Hafen von Brindisi (Port of Brindisi), 1914, watercolor
- Li-Hung-Tschang, 1900, ink drawing
- Scheherezade erzählt ihre Geschichte dem Kalifen (Scheherazade telling her stories to the caliph), 1901, pen and ink drawing
- Mungos (Mongoose), 1901, watercolor pen and ink drawing
- Klagende Frauen (Klageweiber vor einem Haus) (Grieving women [mourners in front of a house]), around 1898–1903, pen and ink drawing
The Saarland Cultural Heritage Foundation announced only recently that, thanks to internal research, the Saarland Museum had been able to clarify the origin of a major work by Max Slevogt: the 1902 painting “Ananas” (Pineapple), and return it to its rightful owners.
Project description (only German version)
Saarland Cultural Heritage Foundation (only German version)