Research on the Art Collection of Dr. Walter Blank, Cologne

Dr. Walter Blank, undatiert. © Klaus Blank
Haus der Familie Blank in Köln, Lohrbergstraße 27, undatiert. © Klaus Blank

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Research on the Art Collection of Dr. Walter Blank, Cologne

Provenance Research Project in cooperation with Mr. Klaus Blank, funded by the German Lost Art Foundation

Born in 1889 in Hoerde, Westphalia, Walter Blank graduated from medical school in Bonn in 1914 and was called to the Western Front as a colonel’s surgeon during World War I. He married Martha Herzstein, who was born in Witten in 1891.

After the end of the war in 1918, the couple lived in Cologne, where Walter Blank established himself as an internist and radiologist with a private practice and later as head of the X-ray department of the Jewish Hospital in the Ehrenfeld district. As a member of the board of directors of the German Radiological Society, he was also scientifically active, developing new procedures in X-ray technology with his brother, Dr. Fritz Blank.

Martha and Walter Blank were interested in modern art and were politically active in the Weimar Republic. They were closely associated with the Kölnischer Kunstverein. The couple built an art collection that included works by Max Pechstein, Marc Chagall, Frans Masereel, Maurice de Vlaminck, Karl Hofer, and Ernst Barlach.

On April 20, 1936, Walter Blank and his sons fled to Antwerp, having just learned of his planned arrest by the Gestapo. His wife had died in 1935. He left behind his house, inventory, and art collection.

Dr. Blank went with his oldest son to Spain, where he joined the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War. He died in Matarò, near Barcelona, on May 18, 1938.

The research project aims to document Walter Blank’s art collection, investigate the circumstances of its loss, and determine the whereabouts of the artworks.


Beate Schreiber
T: +49 (0)30 / 480 986 20

More Information on the Project