Art Collection David and Lola Leder, Chemnitz/Berlin

Max Liebermann: Staudenbeet in des Künstlers Garten in Wannsee, um 1922, Pastell. Auktion Amsler und Ruthardt Berlin, 25. Oktober 1925, Los 162.
David und Lola Leder mit Cousin Carl Leder und Erich Goeritz, undatiert. © Jüdische Gemeinde Chemnitz, Sammlung Lee Leder.
Otto Th. W. Stein: Portrait David Leder, undatiert, Ölgemälde. Der Querschnitt / 2.1922, [H. 3], Weihnachtsheft, "Aus Austellungen der Galerie Flechtheim".

Drawings Gurlitt Estate

Purchasers of the Moving Goods (Lifts) 1944/1945

Art Collection David Leder, Chemnitz/Berlin

Provenance Research Project in Collaboration with Mrs. Dr. Bettina Leder, funded by the German Lost Art Foundation

The project was started on June 1, 2021 and ended on August 30, 2022. The research project aimed to reconstruct the art collection of David and Lola Leder. David Leder (1888-1947) worked as a merchant in the textile industry first in Chemnitz, later in Berlin. He married Lea Laura, called Lola, nee Bernstein (1892-1977) in 1914.

David Leder started collecting art, probably inspired by his brother Max and by Otto Th. W. Stein, in Chemnitz. His wife Lola and he were friends with Emil Orlik, Otto Th. W. Stein, Max Liebermann and Lovis Corinth, who portrayed Lola and David Leder on several occasions. Their works were numerous in the Leders’ collection.

For example, David Leder had acquired the entire graphic oeuvre of Lovis Corinth. Other artists represented with their works in the collection included Paul Cézanne, Albrecht Dürer, Karl Hofer, Edvard Munch, Will Nowak, Rembrandt, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Lesser Ury and Maurice de Vlaminck. In 1925, the collection included about 600 works of art, mainly many graphic works.

An inventory of the collection has not been preserved, but there is a list from 1923 for the hand drawings of Max Liebermann.

David Leder supported contemporary artists such as Jakob Steinhardt and Otto Th. W. Stein. He acted as a patron for the Chemnitz Municipal Collections and the Kunsthütte Chemnitz. He also offered drawings as donations to the Berlin National Gallery. In addition, according to his friend Erich Goeritz, David Leder was particularly interested in books, which he collected in first editions and offprints.

In 1925 David Leder sold part of his collected hand drawings at two auctions in Berlin. On March 3 and 4, 1925, 316 hand drawings by Max Liebermann from the collection were offered by Paul Cassirer and Hugo Helbing in Berlin. Among the byers was the Berlin National Gallery.

The second auction included a total of 309 drawings and took place on October 29, 1925 at Amsler & Ruthardt in Berlin. It is not possible to verify whether all lots offered were from the collection of David Leder.

Of the drawings offered at both auctions, a total of 96 remained unsold. Four drawings entered the collection of Hildebrandt Gurlitt at an unknown date.

Part of the Leder collection was stored – both before and after the auctions – in the Chemnitz Municipal Museum or in the Chemnitz Kunsthütte. Some objects were offered for sale by the Chemnitz art dealer Gerstenberger from 1926 onwards. Which of them were sold could not be verified exactly. In 1932, the art dealer returned objects to David Leder.

On November 22, 1927, 71 works were offered at an auction by F.A.C. Prestel from the “estate of a well-known Frankfurt art lover”, which had probably previously been in David Leder’s collection and had been for sale at the Amsler & Ruthardt auction in 1925.

In 1933, the Leders loaned two paintings by Liebermann to the Jewish Museum Berlin; they were later confiscated.

In 1935, David Leder and his wife Lola sent artworks and books on loan to the Tel Aviv Museum.

Before the couple emigrated to London, their belongings were packed into two lifts, including works of art. Due to the beginning of the war in 1939, both lifts were not transported to their destination London and were confiscated by the Berlin Gestapo at the Harry Hamacher shipping company in January 1942.

The Chief Finance President of Berlin-Brandenburg auctioned or sold parts of them in the spring/summer of 1944, among others to the following persons: G. Sonatria, Charlottenburg, H. Holtzapfel in Lankwitz and Richard Hille, Bismarckstraße 80.

In 1947, Lola Leder tried in vain to recover the two lifts. A part of the loan to Tel Aviv were received by her. However, drawings and a watercolor work by Jakob Steinhardt, a watercolor by Willi Nowak and lithographs by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec are still there today.

The loans to the Jewish Museum were found and restituted in Berlin in 1948. A portrait of David Leder by Gustav Schaffer remained in Chemnitz from 1931 on, and became part of the collection of the Municipal Art Museum in Chemnitz in 1962 .

On the History of the Leder Family

David Leder came to Chemnitz from Jassy in Romania in 1889 as a one-year-old child with his parents and siblings. After attending high school, David Leder learned the trade of a merchant in his father Leon Leder’s company, which dealt in stockings and gloves. In 1910 he was given power of attorney in his brother-in-law’s company. In 1914 David Leder founded a wholesale company in Chemnitz and married Lea Laura, called Lola, Bernstein.

When Romania entered the war in August 1916, David Leder was interned with his brothers and father in Holzminden in the Duchy of Brunswick.

In 1920 David Leder went to Berlin with his wife and their three children, Rudolf, Alfred and Ruth, who had been born in the meantime. His close friend Erich Goeritz had also moved there with his family. Erich Goeritz’s father had founded the textile company Sigmund Goeritz AG in Chemnitz, which had risen to become the market leader in underwear.

In 1921, David Leder founded a company in Berlin for the wholesale and retail of wool and cotton. In 1925 he returned to Chemnitz with his family.

From 1928, David Leder worked in Berlin for the Chemnitz and Berlin textile companies Sigmund Goeritz AG, among others, and as sole agent for numerous companies for all branches of the Woolworth company. Around 1930, the family moved back to Berlin.

From 1933 on, the Leder family was persecuted as Jews by the National Socialists. The children of David and Lola Leder went into emigration. David Leder was deported to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in November 1938 and remained imprisoned. His company was deleted from the Berlin Commercial Register in February 1939. In the summer of 1939, he and his wife Lola managed to leave Germany and emigrate to London via Basel and Paris.

David Leder was unable to continue his earlier activities in London. At first he was not granted a work permit and in 1940 he began an apprenticeship as a lathe operator, which he discontinued due to an accident at work that resulted in the loss of a finger. After that he was employed at the fire station in the air-raid shelter. He died in a London hospital on March 1, 1947, at the age of 58.


Beate Schreiber
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Blog präsentiert von Hypotheses – Zum OpenEdition-Katalogeintrag – ISSN 2702-7384

“Die Kunstsammlung von David und Lola Leder” von Beate Schreiber unter Mitarbeit von Dr. Bettina Leder