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. He was particularly interested in Asian objects and art.
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.
After the National Socialists 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.
FaCTS & FILES
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Research Project on non-European objects of the Gutmann collection
The one-year research project on the non-European objects of the Gutmann collection started in February 2023. It is funded by the German Lost Art Foundation. Archival research, especially in correspondence between scholars and curators, museums, and art dealers, will be used to determine the circumstances of acquisition and the whereabouts of the non-European objects, and to document their descriptions. The research will also locate the objects and identify their owners after 1934. The Museum of Asian Art, the Museum of Islamic Art, and the Central Archive of the National Museums in Berlin – Prussian Cultural Heritage (SMB) are collaborators of the project. These institutions will provide expert support and advice in research design as well as in evaluation and classification of objects.
THE PROJECT IN THE MEDIA
RBB “Kontraste” 12. November 2009 21:45 Uhr Raubkunst im Bundestag – Hinterbliebene erhalten Bild zurück
Documentary "Roofkunst & Restitutie"
The art collection of Herbert M. Gutmann was featured in a documentary produced by the Dutch Restitution Committee. The film is online here https://youtu.be/xgMMykOlRsU