SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION

August 2, 2017

It is common knowledge that Adolf Hitler aspired to be a working artist before embarking on a career in politics. At the turn of the 20th century, Austrian artists such as Klimt, Kokoschka & Moser developed a revolutionary style of modern art in contrast to the classical style of the late 19th century. Suddenly traditional landscapes and mythological scenes took a back seat to unconventional figural studies, and this was reflected in a new generation of students accepted into the leading art institutions. In 1907 and 1908, a young Hitler applied for a place at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, but he was turned away both times. They preferred students such as Egon Schiele (alumni from 1906-09) who embraced this new modern style, rather than Hitler, who preferred the old, classical school of realistic painters. The rejection was devastating for Hitler, and he resented this until his death in 1945. In fact, as head of the Nazi Party, his political conquests paralleled his need to eradicate what he referred to as ‘Entartete Kunst’ (Degenerate Art) and establish his own ‘Fuhrermuseum’ in Linz with a collection of stolen artworks that suited his tastes.

 

The following artworks in our collection (all FOR SALE) all have a historical connection to the Nazi Party and the horrible atrocities of World War II:

 

 

THE ARTIST OF THE THIRD REICH

 

Fredrich August Von Kaulbach was a well respected German portraitist and historical painter. He was from a long family lineage of prominent artists. He trained at the Arts & Craft School of Nuremberg (predecessor of Academy of Fine Arts) and became a member of the Munich Secession, where he was known for his portraits of well known members of Bavarian high society. His art was so popular, that he was a favoured artist of Adolf Hitler. In fact, his masterwork, ‘The Triumph of Music”, painted in 1919, was chosen as the centerpiece for the Reich Chancellery Dining Room in Berlin, located above the Fuhrerbunker. Hitler requested to sit facing the painting during every meal. The painting was destroyed during World War II. This recently identified Kaulbach work in our collection depicts Orpheus playing a harp for a group of naked sirens. There is a very good chance this painting could be a study, or early version of “The Triumph Of Music”, and as such would be an incredibly important find, and a historically significant artefact of World War II.

 

 Fredrich August Von Kaulbach (1850 - 1920) - "Orpheus Playing A Harp" (c.1920)

 

 

THE COLLECTOR

 

Thomas Leitner was an Austrian symbolist and landscape painter. A graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, he represented the old school of Austrian painters. ‘Fields Of Mitterndorf’ was painted near Salzburg in 1913, shortly before World War I. It depicts an exhausted (naked) farmer tending his fields overlooking the Alps. This painting is one of Leitner’s largest and greatest works.  It was purchased by Jewish couple, Moritz & Karoline Silberstern, of Czechoslovakia. During World War II, Moritz was captured and murdered in the gas chambers in Auschwitz, Poland in 1943. Karoline escaped with her children and few possessions, including this artwork and arrived in Sydney, where she passed away in 1975, aged 98. We are lucky to hold five works from the Silberstern Collection.

 

 Thomas Leitner (1876 - 1949) - "Fields Of Mitterndorff" (1913)

 

 

THE FORGER

 

Han van Meegeren was a Dutch painter and portraitist and is considered to be one of the most ingenious art forgers of the 20th century.  Despite his life of crime, Van Meegeren became a national hero after World War II when it was revealed that he had sold forged art to Hermann Göring during the Nazi Occupation of the Netherlands. During World War II, wealthy Dutchmen wanted to prevent a sellout of Dutch art to Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party, and they avidly bought van Meegeren's forgeries, thinking them the work of the masters. Following the war, the forgery was discovered in Göring's possession, and Van Meegeren was arrested on 29 May 1945 as a collaborator, as officials believed that he had sold real Dutch cultural property to the Nazis. He was convicted on falsification and fraud charges on 12 November 1947, after a brief but highly publicized trial, and was sentenced to a modest punishment of one year in prison. Van Meegeren was so famous, his own original works we widely forged. “Boys Blowing Bubbles”, available from our gallery, is an original Van Meegeren painting, rather than one of his more famous forgeries.

 

 

 Han Van Meegeren (1889 - 1947) - "Boys Blowing Bubbles" (c.1940)

 

 

 

THE WANTED MAN

 

 

Sir David Alexander Cecil Low was a New Zealand political cartoonist and caricaturist who lived and worked in the United Kingdom for many years. From the 1920s throughout World War II, he earned fame for his Colonel Blimp depictions and his merciless satirising the personalities and policies of German dictator Adolf Hitler, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, and other leaders of his time. His stinging depictions of Hitler and Mussolini led to his work being banned in Italy and Germany, and his being named in ‘The Black Book’. The book contained 2,820 names of people, including British nationals and European exiles, who were to be immediately arrested by SS Einsatzgruppen upon the Nazi invasion, occupation, and annexation of Great Britain to the Third Reich. This artwork from our collection is a wonderful caricature of a gentleman holding eye glasses produced for ‘The Bulletin’ in 1917, prior to his International fame.

 

 

 

Sir David Low (1891 - 1963) - "Gentleman With Eye-glasses" (1917)

 

 

 

THE PRISONER

 

Joe Rose (Hans-Joachim Rosenberg) was a German Surrealist painter who miraculously escaped the famous Buchenwald Concentration Camp near Weimar, Germany, with his wife during WWII in 1939, to become one of Australia’s premier modern abstract and surrealist artists. His work was inspired by his painful experiences as a Jew in wartime Germany, but also the dark influences of German Expressionism and the macabre. He exhibited regularly at Holdsworth Galleries, Sydney, and is represented in many important private collections & institutions. His work and career was documented in several significant Jewish publications in Sydney. We are lucky to have two Rose artworks in our collection, including ‘Deluge’, painted around 1960.

 

Joe Rose (1915 - 1999) - "Deluge" (c.1960)

 

 

THE DEGENERATE

 

William Straube was a German artist associated with the Fauves, and a member of the ‘Deutscher Kunstlerbund’ (German Artist’s Union). He studied under Henri Matisse, and was influenced by Vincent Van Gogh and Adolf Holzel. Straube’s two sons were killed during World War II fighting for the Nazis. Despite this connection to the Nazi Party, as a Fauve, his work was considered avant-guarde, and thus ‘degenerate’, and many of his paintings were destroyed. Ironically, the artwork in our collection by Straube is a portrait a German Afrika Corp (Nazi), completed in Italy in 1944.

 

William Straube (1871 - 1954) - "German Afrika Corp - Italian" (1944)

 

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