Pierre-Auguste Renoir Painting Restituted to the Heirs of a Jewish Banker Fleeing Nazi Persecution and Repurchased by a German City
A landscape painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir was restituted to heirs of its original Jewish owner and then re-purchased by the northern German city of Hagen, the Art Newspaper reported Wednesday.
The painting, View of the Sea from Haut Cagnes (ca. 1910), was originally owned by Jakob Goldschmidt, one of the most influential bankers in Weimar Germany and a major collector of Old Masters and Impressionist art in the 1920s. He was also a major patron of Berlin’s Neue Nationalgalerie. In 1933, Goldschmidt was forced to flee amid Nazi persecution to Switzerland, before emigrating to the United States, where he later died in 1955.
Some of Goldschmidt’s art collection stayed behind in Berlin, however, as collateral for a loan. In 1941, the Nazis seized the collection, which included the Renoir painting. The work was subsequently sold at the Berlin auction house Hans W. Lange later that year. In 1960, it came up for sale again at Galerie Nathan in Zurich. It was later purchased by Fritz Berg, the first president of the BDI association of German industry. After the passing of Berg and his widow, in 1989, their collection went to the Osthaus Museum in Hagen, where it has remained.
The city restituted the painting to the banker’s heirs and then repurchased by the city so that it can stay on view at the Osthaus Museum. Moving forward, the painting will be be displayed with information about Goldschmidt.
“The heirs of Jakob Goldschmidt are happy to have reached a satisfactory agreement for both sides in this matter after more than 15 years of intensive discussions,” their lawyer Sabine Rudolph said in a statement. “The restitution of the painting is a recognition of the fact that their grandfather suffered great wrongs under the Nazi regime, including huge financial losses.”
The repurchase was funded by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, the German culture ministry, and the Cultural Foundation of the States.