Germany’s Liebermann Villa identifies a painting as Nazi looted art

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2 ML Kopf eines St. Adriansschuetzen aus dem Jahr 1627 Oel auf Leinwand 1896 Foto Oliver Ziebe Berlin 1
Max Liebermann, Kopf eines St. Adriansschützen aus dem Jahr 1627, Kopie nach Frans Hals, 1896, Öl auf Leinwand, 41 x 32 cm, Max-Liebermann-Gesellschaft, Foto: Oliver Ziebe, Berlin

The museum team of the Liebermann Villa in Berlin has examined the collection and identified a painting as Nazi looted art. 

The painting is by Max Liebermann (1847-1935) and is from 1876, the museum announced on Thursday. It is a copy of painting known as “St Adriansschütze” in German, or St Adrian’s Marksman, and is modelled after “The Officers of the St Adrian Militia Company in 1633” by the Dutchman Frans Hals (ca 1582-1666).

The Liebermann Villa, which is located by the Berlin lake Wannsee, is examining the history of its collection in a new exhibition

Since 2020, around 150 works have been examined. The research had revealed that one object in the collection of the Max Liebermann Society could clearly be described as Nazi looted art.

According to the report, the painting was in the possession of his wife Martha after Liebermann’s death. In the course of persecution by the Nazis, she lost almost all her assets, the museum said. “In March 1943, she evaded the threat of deportation to the Theresienstadt concentration camp by committing suicide.”

Shortly afterwards, the Gestapo and the Nazi head of finance for Berlin and Brandenburg confiscated and disposed of her property, the museum said. 

“Whether ‘St Adrian’s Marksman’ was confiscated only then, or whether Martha Liebermann had to sell it earlier because of her plight, could not be conclusively clarified. In both cases, however, the painting is clearly to be classified as Nazi looted art.”

The museum announced that the painting was acquired in 2003 in the after-sale of a Berlin auction. Following the research, an agreement has now been reached with the Liebermanns’ great-granddaughters.

According to the museum, they will waive compensation or restitution of the painting on the condition that reference is made to the fate of the Liebermann family, to the provenance of the painting and to “the extremely accommodating agreement.”

The research project was funded by the German Lost Art Foundation. © dpa

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