“The Marketplace at Pirna”
MFA Houston Owns Bellotto Painting Sold Under Duress During World War II, Foundation Claims
July 22, 2021 -The Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art, an organization that researches works looted during World War II, is calling on the Museum of Fine Arts Houston to returne. ...
Late 18th Century: Leipzig merchant and banker Gottfried Winckler (1731-1795) purchases "The Marketplace at Pirna" likely directly from Bernardo Bellotto and assigns it inventory number 1025. Winckler’s collection of paintings was one of the most important private middle-class collections in central Germany in the second half of the 18th century. Circa 1800, artist Christian Friedrich Wiegand recorded portions of Winckler's painting collection, including "The Marketplace at Pirna" in a series of eight watercolors.
By 1930: "The Marketplace at Pirna" is in the gallery of German art dealer Anna Caspari in Munich. Caspari subsequently sells the painting to Dr. Max James Emden.
June 1938: Karl Haberstock “purchases” Emden's "The Marketplace at Pirna," along with two other view paintings by Bellotto and his studio that he owned, and immediately sells them to the Reichskanzlei. The sale was arranged by Anna Caspari. Haberstock was a German art dealer who acquired numerous works of art for Hitler and his planned Führermuseum in Linz.
By August 1940: "The Marketplace at Pirna" is assigned a Linz number (F-35) and is included in Linz Album V, one of 31 albums that contained images of the works of art that had been selected for the Führermuseum.
Summer 1945: The Monuments Men find "The Marketplace at Pirna" in the salt mine of Altaussee, Austria, along with thousands of other works of art destined for Hitler’s Führermuseum, including Emden's other two view paintings by Bellotto and his studio. "The Marketplace at Pirna" is assigned Aussee No. 3060.
July 15, 1945: Aussee No. 3060 enters the Munich Central Collecting Point and is assigned MCCP No. 4411.
April 15, 1946: MCCP No. 4411 is shipped to the Netherlands in response to a Dutch SNK declaration form and information the Monuments Men received from German art dealer Ms. Maria Almas-Dietrich. Before the war, Mr. Hugo Moser, a German Jew, art dealer, and collector, had owned a version of "The Marketplace at Pirna." When he fled Europe, he left some works of art, including his version of "The Marketplace at Pirna," with a Dutch restorer who was murdered by the Nazis. The painting eventually finds its way to the Amsterdam-based Goudstikker Gallery, which sells it to Ms. Maria Almas-Dietrich on July 4, 1942. The painting was deposited in Wolfratshausen, a known repository for inventory of Galerie Almas. Allied soldiers empty that repository in November 1945 and transfer all of her inventory to the MCCP. Her painting of "The Marketplace at Pirna" – the same painting Hugo Moser had left with the restorer – enters the MCCP on Nov. 28, 1945 and is assigned MCCP No. 15872.
April 28, 1949: Moser’s son signs custody receipt for the Netherlands’ officials upon receiving a version – but not his – of "The Marketplace at Pirna."
May 12, 1949: Monuments Man Munsing, Director of the MCCP, realizes a mistake has been made and writes a letter to the Commissioner General for Netherlands, Economic Recuperation requesting return of MCCP No. 4411, which the Monuments Men sent to the Netherlands on April 15, 1946, in error.
The Dutch Commission responded to Munsing’s letter informing him that his request had been forwarded to the new organization created to address restitutions. The Dutch reply was otherwise non-responsive to Munsing’s request as there is no additional correspondence in the U.S. National Archives file.
Feb 28, 1952: Hugo Moser sells the version of "The Marketplace at Pirna" he received from the Netherlands to Samuel H. Kress Foundation (Kress inventory No. K1914).
1953: Kress loans "The Marketplace at Pirna" to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
1961: Kress gifts "The Marketplace at Pirna" to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
Research on this project has been made possible, in part, by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy demands wisdom.
Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this project do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The Monuments Men Foundation would like to recognize and thank the various members at the following archives, whose timely assistance to our research team has been essential to our research efforts on this and other projects:
Haberstock-Archiv Stadt Augsburg, Kunstsammlungen und Museen
Expertisecentrum Restitutie van het NIOD Instituut voor Oorlogs-, Holocaust- en Genocidestudies, Amsterdam
Stadt Leipzig Stadtgeschichtliches Museum Leipzig
Stiftung Preussischer Schlösser und Gärten SPSG Potsdam
The Witt Library, Courtauld Institute of Art, London
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