UK gallery has ‘looted Jewish art’

By Rachel Fletcher, April 4, 2008
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A painting in London’s National Gallery which hung on Hitler’s wall may have been stolen from a Jewish owner.

Cupid Complaining to Venus, by the 15th-century artist Lucas Cranach the Elder, has been identified in a photograph of Hitler’s gallery by researcher Birgit Schwartz.


The National Gallery is now appealing for any information about its history from 1909 to 1945, as there is a possibility that it was looted between 1933 and the end of the war.

Nazi dealers who handled looted paintings put certain works aside for Hitler, who was sent photographs from which to choose.

Anne Webber, co-chair of the Commission for Looted Art in Europe, said: “In the course of our claims for various families, we have discovered paintings that ended up in Hitler’s possession or were seized on his orders, and have recovered them.”

The National Gallery bought the painting in 1963 from New York dealers E&A Silbermann, which said it bought it from the collection of Emil Goldschmidt at auction in Berlin in April 1909.

Silbermanns told the National Gallery that it had bought the Cranach from “family descendants” of the buyer at the auction. But it later emerged that it had been acquired in 1945 by Patricia Hartwell, an American war correspondent working in Germany.

In 2004, Mrs Hartwell’s son, Jay, told the gallery that she had been allowed to take the painting from a US-controlled warehouse in Germany. She then sold it to Silbermanns in 1963.

    Last updated: 12:35pm, June 4 2008