After extensive research the German museum Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz has restituted two works of art by the Dresden Romantic painter Ernst Ferdinand Oehme to the heirs of the Jewish industrialist Michael Berolzheimer. The museum was able to prove that the drawing Aus dem großem Gehege Dresden (From the Large Enclosure Dresden) and the watercolor Bauerngehöft (Farmstead) were looted by the Nazi regime, Die Welt has reported.
The artworks were sold at a Nazi-initiated art auction in Munich, in 1938 and 1939 – According to the museum’s provenance research – after lawyer and avid art collector Berolzheimer was able to bring his print collection of etchings by grand masters such as Rembrandt and an Auguste Rodin sculpture with him when he fled.
But Berolzheimer was forced to leave behind the greater majority of his belongings when he fled the Third Reich and emigrated to the United States – and although having taken a small quantity of the collection with him – the collector was unable to take the bulk of his 800-strong collection.
Berolzheimer’s stepson Waldemar Schweisheimer began looking for the lost works almost immediately after World War II. He recovered about 100 pieces before ending the search in 1966. The Rodin, which his stepfather had purchased in 1912, is in the City Art Museum of St. Louis. Berolzheimer’s great-nephew, also named Michael Berolzheimer, recently renewed the search on behalf of the family, finding success through New York’s Holocaust Claims Processing Office, which recently helped secure two of the drawings for the heirs.
“I have a lot of respect for my great-uncle and I’m his namesake, and so this is a quest of honor, a way of honoring Dr. Michael in a manner that his life deserves,” he said in a phone interview from his home in Saitama, Japan, near Tokyo. “People who own these pieces of art should give them back,” he told USA Today.
Photo: Shepherd/W & K Galleries, New York. A drawing by Ernst Ferdinand Oehme.