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Provenance Research on the Art Collection of Herbert M. Gutmann

Herbert M. Gutmann (1879-1942) collected paintings, porcelain, tapestries, and antiques. Mr. Gutmann was a collector of Dutch landscape as well as French and German Rococo paintings. Mr. Gutmann also collected Asian porcelain and Persian sculpture and porcelain. In addition, his possessions included Meissen porcelain, furniture, and fine tapestries.

His mansion in Potsdam, Herbertshof, was designed to exhibit his collection. Several photographs taken at Herbertshof around 1930 and the catalogue of the auction at Paul Graupe
give us an idea of his art holdings in 1934.
The collection reflected his varied business and cultural interests. It was a very personal collection showing the strong relation of the family to the city of Dresden and the kingdom of Saxony. For instance, Pietro Rotari’s famous varie teste were attractions at the Russian
and Saxon courts. Purchased from the Saxon Royal collection, Gutmann’s Rotari portraits
were painted for the decoration of Schloss Pillnitz.

Herbert M. Gutmann was fascinated by Oriental culture, by Persian, Arab, and Ottoman ceramics, as well as Chinese porcelain. He was adviser for the Department of Islamic Arts at
the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Museum in Berlin and had donated some pieces to that museum.

A special gallery was added to his mansion to exhibit the “Arabicum,” a Syrian Boiserie dating back to the eighteenth century. In addition, Herbert M. Gutmann collected Scottish and
English portraits, reflecting his close connection to Scotland. His mother was born in Edinburgh; he was an avid golfer.

After the Nationalsocialist assumed power in Germany in 1933, Gutmann was persecuted due to his Jewish decent and his political position in the Weimar Era. Herbert M. Gutmann lost memberships of advisory boards and also income, was forced to sell shares of companies and was limited to work in Germany.

For this reason, he was forced to auction his art collection at the auction house Paul Graupe in Berlin. 

Facts & Files is commissioned by the family of Herbert M. Gutmann to conduct research on the provenance and whereabouts of works of art from the collection of Herbert M. Gutmann.

On March 31, 2009, the Vienna Museum returned the painting “The Death of Pappenheim” by the celebrated Austrian artist Hans Makart, to the grandchildren of Herbert M. Gutmann. The decision to restitute the painting was reached unanimously by Vienna's municipal council on June 25, 2008.

In 2010, the German parliament, the Deutsche Bundestag restituted a painting by Franz von Lenbach with the portrait of Bismarck to the family of Herbert Gutmann.

2019 the Dutch Advisory Committee on the Assessment of Restitution Applications for Items of Cultural Value and the Second World War recommended the restitution of 14 Meissen porcelain objects to the Gutmann family.

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Beate Schreiber
Facts & Files
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