A collection of work by an acclaimed Jewish artist has been discovered lying forgotten in a pensioner’s attic.
Dr Max Block, 83, came across the paintings, drawings and etchings when he began clearing the loft of his Liverpool home in preparation for a move. The works were inherited from his mother, who had married the artist Erich Wolfsfeld after he fled from Germany on the eve of the Second World War.
“I had put them in my loft when my mother died and forgotten all about them,” said Dr Block.
He called in auctioneer Nick Hall to value the collection. “I was staggered,” said Mr Hall. “There were pictures leaning against the wall, 4-5ft in width. In a wardrobe there was a stack of pictures as tall as I am. Everything was crammed in a tiny room.”
Erich Wolfsfeld was born in 1884 and served in the German army during the First World War, drawing wounded soldiers. He was eventually appointed to the prestigious post of Professor of Etching and Painting at the Berlin Academy.
His work hangs in museums in Berlin, Vienna, Rome, Stockholm, Jerusalem and Munich as well as the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Victoria & Albert and British Museum in London.
“If it had not been for the war and his faith he would have been one of the great artists of the 20th century,” said Mr Hall.
When the Nazis came to power, Erich Wolfsfeld was sacked from his post at the Academy and in 1939 he fled to England, where he was interned.
Dr Block has few memories of his stepfather, but has kept several drawings and etchings of family members, including his mother.
The rest of the collection will go on auction at Frank Marshall auctioneers in Knutsford, Cheshire on July 7.
The large oil paintings are expected to sell for around £3,000 to £5,000 each, and the entire collection may fetch £40,000.