Provenance Research :

Museum Ludwig, Köln (Ludwig Museum, Cologne)

Museum Ludwig, Köln (Ludwig Museum, Cologne)

Research into Nazi-confiscated works of art in the museum's collection
In 1999 the museum returned the painting Zwei weibliche Halbakte (Two Female Nudes ) (1919) by Otto Mueller to the heirs of Dr. Ismar Littmann. The work had entered the collection of the Wallraf-Richartz Museum in 1946 as part of a gift from Cologne collector Josef Haubrich. When the modern art Museum Ludwig was created in 1976, the 20th century collection of the Wallraf-Richarz Museum was transferred into it, and the Otto Mueller painting became integrated into the collection of the Museum Ludwig.

The painting was originally part of the collection of 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. In February 1935 his widow put the collection up for auction through the dealer Max Perl, Berlin. But two days before the auction sixty-four Littmann works were confiscated by the Gestapo, including this painting by Mueller, which was among the few works chosen by Eberhard Hanfstaengl, director of the Nationalgalerie, when he was asked to choose those with "sale value". Most of the others, if not all, are believed to have been burnt. In 1937 the painting was confiscated from the Nationalgalerie as "degenerate art" and displayed at the eponymous Munich exhibition that same year. In 1939 it was put up for sale in the auction of 'Paintings and Sculpture by Modern Masters from German Museums' at the Fischer Gallery in Lucerne, Switzerland. Unsold, it was returned to Germany, where the art dealer Hildebrand Gurlitt purchased it for $100, selling it to Josef Haubrich two years later. Before being alerted to its real provenance in 1998, the Museum Ludwig states it had no reason to suspect the painting's history as it was registered as originating from the Nationalgalerie, Berlin.

In February 2000 the museum also returned the painting La Grappe de Raisins (1920) by Louis Marcoussis (1883-1941) to El Lissitzky's son. It had been purchased by Josef Haubrich in 1950 who gave it to the Wallraf-Richartz Museum (from where it was transferred to the Museum Ludwig in 1976). The painting was part of the collection of El Lissitzky's wife Sophie Küppers. The El Lissitzkys, who had met in Hanover and married in Moscow in 1926, had not been allowed to leave the Soviet Union since 1930. The Marcoussis painting was one of several paintings owned by Sophie Küppers which had remained in Germany on loan to the 'Abstract Cabinet' El Lissitzky had built up at the Hanover Museum. In 1937 all the 'Abstract Cabinet' paintings were confiscated by the Gestapo. By 1942 the Marcoussis was in the possession of the art dealer Hildebrand Gurlitt. After confirmation of the provenance of the painting in 1999, the museum returned it to El Lissitzky's and Sophie Küpper' son. In response, Jen Lissitzky decided to present to the museum a design drawing his father had made for the 1928 Prensa exhibition in Cologne.

Research into works of art missing from the museum
No information is available

Contact Details
Museum Ludwig
Bischofsgartenstr. 1
50667 Köln
Tel: +49 (0) 221 221 26165
Fax: +49 (0 )221 221 24114

Evelyn Weiss 'Zwei Restitutionsfälle' in Koordinierungsstelle für Kulturgutverluste (ed.), Beiträge öffentlicher Einrichtungen der Bundesrepublik Deutschland zum Umgang mit Kulturgütern aus ehemaligem jüdischen Besitz (Magdeburg: Koordinierungsstelle für Kulturgutverluste, 2001), 170-185. Text in German, summary in English.

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