Kristeller Collection

VAN HAM Restitutions

Always expect the unexpected - that's what an American community of heirs must have thought on receiving completely unexpected news from Germany: The painting "Roses and Lilac" by Lovis Corinth, consigned to Van Ham's for the coming autumn sale, was once part of a Berlin private collection of which some artworks were stolen during World War II. The heirs were unaware of the existence of this painting and their entitlement to it - until Van Ham started their research and proactively approached the community of heirs to adequately restitute the work of art.

Originally the painting "Roses and Lilac", created in 1918 by Lovis Corinth, belonged to the married couple Siegmund and Agathe Fischbein, who were friends of Lovis Corinth. The work was then handed down to their daughter Vilma, who, after marrying Walter Kristeller, assumed her husband's family name. Because of their Jewish ancestry the Kristellers were pursued by the National Socialists and decided to immigrate to New York in 1936. In September 1936 their effects were packed and stored by the Berlin haulage contractor Gustav Knauer. Among the stored effects was Corinth's still life "Roses and Lilac". The shipment of their effects took place on October 22nd, 1937. They reached New York in May 1938, but some works of art were missing - among them the Corinth. The painting was never shipped to New York, but sold as soon as February 10th, 1937 by the Berlin Gemälde-Galerie (art gallery) Carl Nicolai. These circumstances were unknown in the post-war years and therefore earlier attempts at restitution failed. In the course of time the following generations of the Kristeller's lost the knowledge about the missing paintings.