The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation has announced today it will restitude a painting by German Expressionist artist Ernst Ludwig Kirchner to the heirs of German Jewish art dealer Alfred Flechtheim

Artillerymen, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, 1915. Source: Artforum

According to the museum, the Guggenheim Foundation spent two years tracing the provenance of Ludwig Kirchner’s 1915 painting Artillerymen. It was figured out that the work belonged to Alfred Flechtheim’s niece Rosi Hulisch, who committed suicide before being sent to a concentration camp. In 1938, the painting was acquired by Kurt Feldhäusser, a member of the Nazi Party, Artforum reports.

After Feldhäusser was killed in 1945, his collection was left to his mother, who sent it to New York’s Weyhe Gallery a few years later. The painting was then legally purchased and donated to MoMA, which later transferred it to the Guggenheim Foundation as part of an exchange. The Guggenheim says it did not know about the painting’s history, because according to Donald E. Gordon’s catalogue, the work had been owned by Hermann Lange before it entered Feldhäusser’s collection.

Alfred Flechtheim’s heir Michael Hulton thanked the Guggenheim Foundation for “for doing the right thing”. He said: “Overall, restitution is about recognition and paying respect to the suffering of the Nazi victims’ families. This is consistent with the promise that the international community gave us, the survivors and descendants of the victims, in 1998, at the Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets, to remedy the historic injustice of Nazi looted art. The Guggenheim Foundation has been exemplary in fulfilling that promise.”

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