More War Losses Back in the Dresden Picture Gallery

Monday, October 16, 2023
More War Losses Back in the Dresden Picture Gallery

After almost 80 years, three works lost during the war are returning to the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, a Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden museum. On 23 October 2023, Willem Jan Hoogsteder, an art dealer from the Netherlands, will hand over the “Campagna Landscape” by Jan Baptist Weenix, which had been missing since the end of World War II, to the museum network in a formal ceremony.

The painting by Jan Baptist Weenix (1621−1660) represents a small group of works in his wide-ranging oeuvre, in which the artist combines the natural domestic dune landscapes and their low horizon with the soft light and atmosphere of Italy, with which he was intimately familiar. Johann Gottfried Riedel acquired the painting in 1742 for the royal art collection of Augustus III of Poland. It had been on loan to the former district office of Chemnitz and was moved to Rübenau (in the Erzgebirge region) for safe storage during World War II. After the end of the war, the painting was brought to a general’s apartment, probably for decorative use, by order of a Soviet commander. It arrived in the Netherlands via stops in the USA and other countries. Willem Jan Hoogsteder, owner of the Hoogsteder & Hoogsteder gallery in The Hague, resolved to buy it from the previous owners to donate it to SKD.

The “Campagna Landscape” will be shown with two other wartime losses that have recently returned to the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister.

Balthasar Denner’s (1685–1749) “Portrait of an old man with a grey beard” is more character study than portrait. These studies are feature in many of his works. The museum succeeded in winning back this small-format painting in October 2023 after it turned up on the German art market and had been reliably identified as a wartime loss from Dresden based on an old inventory number, among other things. The number refers to the oldest inventory of paintings in Dresden (1722-1728) – this painting of the man with striking features had belonged to the royal art collection of Augustus the Strong since 1722.

Vincenzo Spisanelli’s (1595−1662) “Rest on the flight” returned to Dresden in June 2023. It shows a well-known subject in Christian art. According to the Bible, the holy family fled to Egypt shortly after Jesus’ birth, as King Herod had ordered all young boys to be killed. The painting itself has also travelled far and wide. It was added to the royal art collection of Augustus III of Poland as early as 1742. In 1935, it initially went to the Foreign Office in Berlin on loan with other works from the gallery. The paintings were to adorn offices, for example in the German embassies in Rome and Paris. The work was supposed to be returned to Dresden in 1944, but never arrived here. Nothing was known about the painting’s whereabouts until a private individual, who had purchased the work of art at auction, contacted the museum network in 2022. SKD managed to reach an amicable settlement with the Danish owner, leading to the return of the work.

The return of “Rest on the flight” further completes the collection of major art from Bologna at Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, which is still missing 19 works lost in the war. Of the over 500 missing paintings, pastel works and miniatures from the galleries listed in Hans Ebert’s 1963 catalogue of wartime losses, “Katalog der Kriegsverluste der Dresdener Gemäldegalerie”, 63 old masters are now “home” again.

Image :"Campagna-Landschaft" , Jan Baptist Weenix (1621−1660) in the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister Dresden

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Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.

Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.


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