Website of the German Lost Art Foundation

Gurlitt provenance research identifies new case of Nazi-confiscated art

Date 2019.03.14

Re­searchers con­duct­ing prove­nance re­search in­to the Gurlitt art trove have iden­ti­fied the paint­ing “Quai de Clichy” by Paul Signac as Nazi-con­fis­cat­ed art. The re­search find­ing has been con­firmed by in­ter­na­tion­al re­view ex­perts. A claim has been reg­is­tered for the re­turn of the paint­ing. The paint­ing was among the hoard of art­works dis­cov­ered at Cor­nelius Gurlitt’s home in Salzburg. A re­port con­tain­ing de­tails of the paint­ing was en­tered in­to the Lost Art Database in 2016.

Com­mis­sion­er for Cul­ture and Me­dia Moni­ka Grüt­ters said: “The fact that prove­nance re­searchers have man­aged to iden­ti­fy the paint­ing ‘Quai de Clichy’ by Paul Signac as a work of art con­fis­cat­ed by the Nazis demon­strates once again how im­por­tant it is to con­sis­tent­ly pur­sue prove­nance re­search in this field. It means we are able to re­turn an­oth­er work from the Gurlitt art trove to the de­scen­dants of a vic­tim of Nazi per­se­cu­tion. We are al­ready in con­tact with a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the de­scen­dants, and I am con­fi­dent that we will be able to resti­tute the paint­ing very soon. This case re­minds us once again that we must nev­er give up in our ef­forts to thor­ough­ly in­ves­ti­gate Nazi art theft, for which Ger­many bears re­spon­si­bil­i­ty. Each resti­tut­ed work of art is an­oth­er im­por­tant step in the quest for his­tor­i­cal jus­tice.”

The French re­al es­tate bro­ker Gas­ton Pros­per Lévy (1893–1977) ac­quired the paint­ing in 1927 via Ga­lerie Georges Bern­heim. Lévy loaned the work to the Pe­tit Palais in Paris, where it was ex­hib­it­ed in the “Ex­po­si­tion Paul Signac” in 1934. Lévy, who be­came a vic­tim of Nazi per­se­cu­tion be­cause he was Jew­ish, amassed a col­lec­tion of more than 100 French mod­ernist paint­ings (main­ly Im­pres­sion­ists) as well as var­i­ous oth­er art ob­jects and fur­ni­ture in Paris. Lévy’s own records show that he had most of this col­lec­tion trans­port­ed to his res­i­dence Les Bouf­fards, 150 km south of Paris, for safe­keep­ing in June 1940. He and his wife then fled the coun­try for Tu­nis. Short­ly af­ter­wards, in Oc­to­ber 1940, the col­lec­tion of art ob­jects stored at Les Bouf­fards was seized by Ger­man sol­diers, ac­cord­ing to wit­ness state­ments. This al­so in­clud­ed the paint­ing “Quai de Clichy” by Paul Signac. In the lists of lost items com­piled by Gas­ton Lévy af­ter the war, the paint­ing was list­ed un­der the ti­tle “Canal et pénich­es”. The paint­ing came in­to the pos­ses­sion of Hilde­brand Gurlitt via the French art mar­ket.

Be­tween 1929 and 1932, Lévy, who was a great sup­port­er of Paul Signac, be­gan to put to­geth­er an ini­tial cat­a­logue—known as a pré-cat­a­logue raison­né—of Signac’s paint­ings.

This is the sev­enth case of Nazi-con­fis­cat­ed art from Cor­nelius Gurlitt’s col­lec­tion that has been un­cov­ered by re­searchers since the Task­force for the Schwabing Art Trove was es­tab­lished. Four works from the col­lec­tion owned by Cor­nelius Gurlitt’s sis­ter have al­so been iden­ti­fied as items con­fis­cat­ed through Nazi per­se­cu­tion. Five art­works have al­ready been resti­tut­ed by the Fed­er­al Gov­ern­ment Com­mis­sion­er for Cul­ture and the Me­dia.

Fur­ther in­for­ma­tion:

Lost Art-Data­bank: www.lostart.de/DE/Fund/532975

Signac ORE (Ob­ject Record Ex­cerpt)

Ab­schlussver­merk zu "Quai de Clichy" von Signac