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Saarland Cultural Heritage Foundation gives works by Max Slevogt back to the heirs of Julius Freund

Date 2020.04.27

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)

Max Slevogt, Scheherezade erzählt ihre Geschichte dem Kalifen, 1901, Federzeichnung Max Slevogt, Scheherezade erzählt ihre Geschichte dem Kalifen, 1901, Federzeichnung Max Slevogt, Scheherezade erzählt ihre Geschichte dem Kalifen, 1901, Federzeichnung Source:  Tom Gundelwein