Restitution of the Minne Sculptures?

Der Standard (06/01/2007)

Restitution Advisory Council studies also the case of Gotthilf-Miskolczy

There is a lot of work awaiting the Restitution Advisory Council which last met in November, 2006. According to Werner Fürnsinn, head of the Commission for Provenance Research, some 35 dossiers have been presented to him for a decision. Ten to twelve cases are being reviewed today.

In regards to the two Kniende Knaben (Kneeling Boys) (1898/1900) by Georges Minne, it could be that the Council revises its decision made in November, 2004, - and now will recommend restitution. Until the Anschluß, there were two such marble sculptures by the Belgian artist which decorated the staircase of Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer’s palace. Presumably, it is this pair of sculptures which were acquired in 1942 by the Austrian Gallery for 6,000 Reichsmark in the “aryanized” auction house located in the Kärtnerstraße because access was available to the seized palace.

The Council also has decisions to make concerning two other art works from the Belvedere. In the case of Max Roden there is Porträt Frau Z. (Portrait of Mrs. Z) by Franz Wiegele, and in the case of Ernst von Gotthilf-Miskolczy, there is Friedrich von Amerling’s painting, Mädchen mit Strohhut (Girl in a Straw Hat). Gotthilf-Miskolczy, architect of the main building of the Austrian Bank Creditanstalt was forced to emigrate to England in 1939. Under the duress of persecution he was forced to liquidate his art collection. Among other items, he offered the Anmerling portrait to the Austrian Gallery – but, unsuccessfully. The painting was acquired some time later by the Austrian Gallery at an auction by the Weinmüller Auction House.

The cases to be processed concern ethnographic objects from the Museum of Ethnology – furniture pieces and glass objects from the MAK as well as instruments, archive material and, in the Causa Rosa Glückselig, a Fiat 522C from Turin from the Museum of Technology.