Restitutions: Works Restored to the Descendants of Carl Heumann

News from 07/04/2022

Several German museums have returned a total of five works of art that originally belonged to the collection of Chemnitz banker Carl Heumann.

Painting of a bridge in a valley
© bpk / Kupferstichkabinett, SMB / Dietmar Katz

On July 4, five works of art from several German museums were transferred to the heirs of Chemnitz banker Carl Heumann at the Städtische Galerie (Municipal Gallery) in the Lenbachhaus , Munich.  The Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation), the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (Dresden State Art Collections) and the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus restituted the works in acknowledgement of the persecution suffered by Carl Heumann and in accordance with the ‘fair and just solution’ concept laid down in the Washington Principles of 1998. The works were handed over to Michael Heumann, who lives in the United States, in his capacity as the representative of the heirs.

This was partly the result of a research project on the provenance of the drawings collection known as the “Sammlung der Zeichnungen,” which is now held at the Kupferstichkabinett (Museum of Prints and Drawings) of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (National Museums in Berlin). The researchers had identified two drawings that were once part of the collection of Carl Heumann, until he sold them some time between 1933 and 1945. Friedrich Jentzen’s Bildnis des Baumeisters August Stüler (Portrait of the Master Builder August Stüler, circa 1830) was purchased for the “Sammlung” on February 19, 1942, for 420 reichsmarks at an auction run by C. G. Boerner in Leipzig. Johann Jakob Schillinger’s Teufelsbrücke (Devil’s Bridge, circa 1800) was purchased on May 24 or 25, 1944, for 1,000 reichsmarks at the Murnau Auction XXV, organized by Karl & Faber in Munich. The collections of the Staatliche Museen hold other works that were previously owned by Heumann, but these remained in possession of the family during World War II and were not sold until 1957. In accordance with an agreement reached by the SPK with Heumann’s heirs, the Teufelsbrücke will be returned, while Jentzen’s portrait of Stüler will remain in the collection.

SPK President Hermann Parzinger commented: “It is very moving to see the Heumann family’s attachment to Germany, considering what happened to Carl Heumann and his children during the Nazi era. He was a great collector, but very few people today know his name or what became of him. Provenance research is bringing his personal history to light, along with that of many others, and each act of restitution is, to some extent, an act of remembrance as well.”

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