Kunsthalle in Emden, (Emden Art Gallery)
Research into Nazi-confiscated cultural
property in the museum's collection
The museum was involved in the first restitution of a painting from the Littmann collection. The painting Knabe vor zwei stehenden und einem sitzenden Mädchen (Landschaft mit Figuren) (1918/19) by Otto Mueller was then part of the collection of Henri Nannen who created a foundation in 1983 which led to the opening of the Emden museum in 1986. Nannen had bought the painting from an English dealer in 1979 and remembered seeing the painting before at the 1937 "Entartete Kunst" exhibition in Munich.
The painting had originally been part of the collection of the Breslau (Wroclaw) collector Dr. Ismar Littmann (1878-1934) who met Otto Mueller when the latter was nominated professor at the local School of Art and Design. In 1934 Littmann committed suicide; his widow then put the collection up for auction through the Berlin dealer Max Perl. Two days before the auction sixty-four works from the collection were confiscated by the Gestapo, including this painting by Mueller. The Otto Mueller painting was kept at the Nationalgalerie as of "sale value" but most of the others are believed to have been burnt. In 1937 the painting was confiscated from the Nationalgalerie as "degenerate art" and displayed at the defamatory Munich exhibition, after which it was given to the art dealer Bernhard Boehmer for a trifling amount.
The Henri and Eske Nannen Foundation, which funds the museum, learnt of the painting's provenance in 1998 and began a search to identify its legal heirs. In May 1999 it unanimously decided in favour of its return to the heirs of Dr. Littmann, who sold the painting back to the museum, where it remains today.
Dr. Achim Sommer, Wissenschaftlicher Leiter
Kunsthalle in Emden
Hinter dem Rahmen 13
Tel: +49 (0) 4921 975050
Fax: +49 (0) 4921 975055
Achim Sommer, 'Otto Mueller's "Knabe vor zwei stehenden und einem sitzenden Mädchen (Landschaft mit Figuren" von 1918/19- Ein expressionistisches Gemälde aus der Sammlung Dr. Ismar Littmann, Breslau", in Koordinierungsstelle für Kulturgutverluste (ed.), Beiträge öffentlicher Einrichtungen der Bundesrepublik Deutschland zum Umgang mit Kulturgütern aus ehemaligem jüdischen Besitz (Magdeburg: Koordinierungsstelle für Kulturgutverluste, 2001),90-103. Text in German, summary in English
accessed 12 December 2002