The European Art Market Networks
European Art Market Networks during La Belle Époque
Old Master market forces
The acquisition and dispersal of Old Master collections are inextricably linked to social, economic and political upheaval. In England, the collecting habits of Charles I (1600-1649) made him neglect his royal duties, leading to economic and political instability. These, in turn, contributed to the English Civil Wars (1642-1651), where the king lost his life and his art collection. The ensuing Cromwellian puritanism virtually erased art patronage in England until the early eighteenth century. In Europe, the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) transformed princely collections. Political and economic instability fuelled the art market as evidenced by the advent and aftermath of the French Revolution in 1789.
The removal of L’Ancien Régime caused a vast dispersal of aristocratic and ecclesiastical collections, which coincided with the emergence of art auctioneering as a niche activity. Grand art collections, those of the Duc d’Orléans and Charles-Alexandre de Calonne, were auctioned in London in 1792-1798, to raise funds for their owners’ political ambitions. British noblemen, art dealers and bankers, like Thomas Slade Moore in 1792, and Lord Gower and the Duke of Bridgewater in 1798, created syndicates to secure sales of the Orléans collection in London, thus reigniting the public interest in and taste for Old Master paintings. The Napoleonic Wars (1801-1815), followed by the revolutions of the 1830s, created fresh opportunities in the Old Master market.
By the late nineteenth century, the Old Master market supply and demand had reversed. The British aristocracy was crippled by an agricultural crisis, increased taxation and introduction of conveyancing laws such as the 1882-1890 Settled Land Acts, which affected transfers of aristocratic property. London-based Old Master dealers, such as Agnew’s, P. & D. Colnaghi and Duveen, had the advantage of knowing art-rich aristocratic families who needed liquidity and were prepared to part with family heirlooms. This is the time when dealers started cultivating a taste among British and European collectors for works of renowned artists with esteemed provenances.
La Belle Époque
The last two decades of the nineteenth century until the onset of the First World War marked a period of political, economic, social and cultural prosperity in Europe and North America. This era of relative peace, improved trade relations between East and West, industrialization and colonial superiority led to the rise of a sophisticated merchant and industrial class. From this new upper class, which promoted cultural philanthropy and institutional bequests, came a number of eclectic private collections. Established European dealerships followed the money, and, instead of using traditional agents abroad, they began to set up shop themselves, such as Agnew’s in Paris (1907) and Berlin (1908), and later, like Kleinberger and Duveen, in New York.
Marcel Nemes started collecting in 1904 and continually showcased his collection across Europe. He introduced the taste for Spanish and Dutch Old Masters in Central Europe and, throughout his life, gave generously to institutions such as the Prado, the Louvre and the Alte Pinakothek in Munich. Art dealer Charles Sedelmeyer, held annual exhibitions, produced catalogues and staged charitable exhibitions, such as for the benefit of L’Orphelinat des Arts (Les Enfants des Arts) in 1901 and in 1902. George Salting deposited most of his vast collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum during his lifetime. He bequeathed parts of his collection to the institution, with paintings left to the National Gallery and works on paper to the British Museum.
Dealers’ networks and art market shifts
Sales data compiled for 155 paintings that once belonged to Adolphe Schloss indicate a significant shift in the way business was conducted on the continent, whereby the art dealers took over important auctions. Franz Kleinberger and Charles Sedelmeyer, both from Vienna and friends, and Georges Petit, achieved record-breaking sales by attracting wealthy buyers from the United States.
The US economy prospered during the “Gilded Age”,” with industrialists such as Henry Osborne Havemeyer and Henry Clay Frick beginning to form their collections. They travelled to Europe to reaffirm their status, emulating the Grand Tours of the eighteenth century, as was customary among European upper classes.
The 1889 Secrétan sale at the Galerie Sedelmeyer was timed to coincide with the Exposition Universelle in order to attract wealthy American visitors and achieve the highest prices. Joseph Duveen and Agnew’s were in attendance bidding on behalf of private clients in the United States and British public institutions. Georges Petit auctioned several important collections: the David P. Sellar estate sale in 1889; the Gustave Rothan estate sale in 1890; the Achille Fontaine-Flament sale in 1904; the Maurice Kann estate sale in 1911; the August de Ridder estate sale in 1924, and the Warneck collection in 1926. These sales brought Paris into stiff competition with London, traditionally the dominant art market rival.
Parisian collectors of Dutch and Flemish seventeenth century paintings, like Rodolphe and Maurice Kann, their cousin Alphonse Kann, Jules Porgès, Eugène Secrétan, Adolphe Schloss, and Édouard Warneck belonged to a wide network of art dealers, auctioneers, agents, critics and museum directors in France as well as in Europe and the United States. Many of them had entwined familial and professional relations. Warneck was the son-in law of Alexis Febvre and the father-in law-of Arthur Sambon, the son of Jules Sambon, a French auctioneer based in Italy who specialized in estate sales. The Kann brothers and Porgès made a considerable fortune in their joint ventures in South Africa. Porgès bought and sold art throughout his life and, according to current available data, dealt with Kleinberger, from whom Schloss acquired nine of his paintings.
The art dealer relationships, like Charles Sedelmeyer and Martin H. Colnaghi, delineated a reversal of the London-Paris connection. Old Masters were going back to Paris to be sold for a larger profit, as opposed to London. In 1899, Colnaghi sold to Sedelmeyer a number of paintings previously owned by Colonel Walter Childe Alers Hankey, with two purchased by Schloss. Paintings that belonged to Thomas Humphry Ward were sold by Martin H. Colnaghi and Agnew’s, probably each time to Sedelmeyer, with five paintings acquired by Schloss. Our research indicates that Kleinberger had significant dealings with British collectors such as Arthur Kay, who preferred to trade directly with Parisian dealers.
Art collectors’ need for art experts
This is the period when art critics became art specialists in their own right, such as Théophile Thoré-Bürger in the middle of the nineteenth century. He influenced a generation art historians and museum directors such as young Wilhelm von Bode, the future director of the Kaiser Friedrich Museum in Berlin. Thoré-Bürger was credited with “discovering” Vermeer, a popular description for the scholarly contribution to the renewal of interest in a forgotten artist. Art dealers, and collectors alike, needed to be legitimized by a respected museum authority and these relationships had to be cultivated and courted. The Old Master works of art significantly increased in value with an accurate attribution, regular exhibition exposure and inclusion in scholarly publications. Joseph Duveen nurtured his relationships with Bode and R. Langton Douglas, eminent art historians and museum directors.
Anton Mensing, the owner of Frederik Muller & Co.., started a collaboration with Frits Lugt that led to a series of noted exhibitions. In 1906, Adolphe Schloss loaned five paintings to Muller’s “Exhibition of Dutch Seventeenth Century Masters,” organized in honor of the tricentennial of Rembrandt’s birth. In 1908, Frederik Schmidt-Degener became the director of the Museum Boijmans in Rotterdam. In the same year, Franz Kleinberger bequeathed a painting by Quiringh van Brekelenkam to the museum. Probably advised by Kleinberger, Adolphe Schloss also gifted a painting in 1908, then attributed to the French painter Louis Le Nain. Schmidt-Degener in turn, in his 1908 publication on Adriaen Brouwer, discussed in great detail the artist’s paintings in the Schloss Collection. One might think that Schmidt-Degener had visited the Schloss residence in order to carefully inspect the Brouwer paintings.
Taking full advantage of the art market networks, Adolphe Schloss cultivated his relationships, continuously bought and sold, and promoted his collection. Adolphe Schloss was the embodiment of the Old Master collector of La Belle Époque.
Avery-Quash, Susanna and Christian Huemer (ed.). London and the Emergence of a European Art Market, 1780–1820. Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute. 2019.
Avery-Quash, Susanna and Barbara Pezzini (ed.). Old Masters Worldwide: Markets, Movements and Museums, 1789–-1939. London: Bloomsbury. 2021.
Bayer, Thomas M. and John R. Page. The Development of the Art Market in England: Money as Muse, 1730–1900. London and New York: Routledge. 2016.
Fletcher, Pamela and Anne Helmreich (ed.). The rise of the modern art market in London, 1850–1939. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press. 2011.
Hook, Philip. Rogues’ Gallery: A History of Art and its Dealers. London: Profile Books. 2017.
Roberts, William. Memorials of Christies: a record of art sales from 1766 to 1896. London. 1897. Accessed 20 June 2021. https://archive.org/details/memorialsofchris01robeuoft/page/xvi/mode/2up
Serafini, Paolo. “Archives for the History of the French Art Market (1860–-1920): The Dealers’ Network.” Getty Research Journal. Volume 8. 2016. Accessed 20 June 2021. https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/full/10.1086/685918
Long, Véronique. “Les collectionneurs juifs parisiens sous la Troisième République (1870–1940).
Archives Juives. 2009/1 Vol. 42. pp. 84-104. Accessed 20 June 2021. https://doi.org/10.3917/aj.421.0084
Introduction to the Munich Art Market during and after World War II
The Munich art scene before World War II
Munich was long a center of the German and European art trade. With its Academy of Fine Arts, its progressive artists' associations such as Der Blaue Reiter, and annual exhibitions at the impressive Crystal Palace, Munich formed an important cultural center in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. With its long and rich tradition of art and antiques trade, including numerous well-established family businesses, Munich represented a flourishing center for dealers in conservative and modern art.
A colorful and diverse scene was created by hundreds of galleries, art and antiques dealers, auction houses, and antiquarian bookstores. How lively and diverse this scene actually was is hardly traceable today, because many of the names of Jewish art dealers, gallerists or auctioneers have been erased and not yet been brought back to public awareness through research. Representing a forgotten variety of the then manifold art market scene, about which we know almost nothing today, are: Moderne Kunsthandlung Moses Blum, Galerie A. S. Drey, Galerie Theodor Einstein & Co., Galerie E. A. Fleischmann, Galerie Jordan & Co, Siegfried & Walter Lämmle, Kunsthandlung Brüder Lion, Kunst-Salon J. Littauer, Ludwigs-Galerie or Neue Galerie Schönemann & Lampi.
The rise of the National Socialists
With the National Socialists´ rise to power in 1933 and the subsequent changes of cultural politics, the heterogeneous art scene of Munich changed drastically. Art dealers of Jewish origin were systematically persecuted and put under pressure. In the summer of 1935, a circular from the Reichskammer der bildenden Künste forced more than 40 Jewish art dealers in Munich to either liquidate or “aryanize” their companies within four weeks.
The liquidation of Jewish businesses due to the Nazi persecution was accompanied by an occupational ban and meant that the former owners had lost all/their professional opportunities. The sheer flood of liquidated businesses caused a rapid fall of the prices for cultural objects, as they were sold under duress. By fleeing Nazi Germany, Jewish art collectors and business owners lost the right to access their bank accounts and to the meager proceeds from forced sales. For those who tried to stay in the Reich, the persecution measures continued to intensify for those who tried to stay in the Reich, ultimately including deportation and murder.
The formerly influential and prominent Jewish companies, such as Galerie L. Bernheimer, Galerie D. Heinemann and Hugo Helbing's auction house, and numerous small businesses that disappeared, remain mostly unknown until today. These galleries specialized in Judaica, Middle Eastern artifacts, and modern and expressionist art. Along with their former owners they had vanished from commercial registers from the city's culture and finally from its memory. The once heterogeneous and diverse art market was transformed into a mainly Nazi-conformist scene. Munich, instrumentalized as the Hauptstadt der Bewegung (Capital of the [National Socialist] movement), played a prominent role: Cultural policy was used to propagate Nazi power and ideals, as reflected and demonstrated in the exhibition “Entartete Kunst” (degenerate art) and in the construction of the so-called Haus der Deutschen Kunst (House of German Art)."
The Nazi-approved art dealers
During the Nazi regime, the art market was dominated by dealers approved by the Nazi authorities; many of them traded art directly with the Nazi elite. Maria Almas-Dietrich or auctioneers such as Adolf Weinmüller were amongst the main beneficiaries of the Nazi cultural policies and its measures against a Jewish art market presence. Weinmüller's auction house, founded in 1936, was able to secure the leading position in the auction business. Weinmüller repeatedly auctioned objects and collections that had to be sold under duress and that were brought in by the Geheime Staatspolizei (Secret State Police or Gestapo) or other looting organizations such as the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR) and Möbel-Aktion, both operating in the occupied territories. Since the Nazi elite appreciated the value of art as decoration and expression of power, the art market flourished on the basis of the systematic boycott and murder of collectors and dealers of Jewish origin.
After the end of World War II, Munich was taken over by the U.S. military administration, which also tried to control the art market. First, the Allies revoked the professional licenses of most of the art dealers and initiated investigations into their involvement with the Nazi regime. In addition, regulations were introduced to prevent looted artworks from being traded and exported abroad. However, most investigations conducted by the Allies were unsuccessful and had ceased by 1948, which explains the continuities that characterized the postwar art market. For several decades, the Munich art market was predominantly represented by the art dealers who had been successful under the Nazi regime. Confiscated stock and inventories had to be returned to exactly those dealers and auctioneers by the U.S. military government due to false or questionable statements about the origin of the objects. By the end of 1940s, the trade in looted artworks resumed once again, covering up traces of the expropriated and stolen objects, many of which still circulate on the art market today.
Many dealers and collectors of Jewish origin who suffered persecution during the Holocaust and ongoing emotional trauma found it impossible to "return home" to Germany. The persistence of a strong antisemitic atmosphere and the continuity of networks of actors and perpetrators from the Nazi era prevented a successful re-establishment of the Munich art market.
Hopp, Meike. “Kunsthandel im Nationalsozialismus. Adolf Weinmüller in München und Wien”, 1st edition, Böhlau, 2012.
Hopp, Meike; Steinke, Melida. Galerie Helbing – Auctions for the World: https://artsandculture.google.com/exhibit/VwKyXPJHKm3FJA?hl=en
Advertisements of the Munich art dealers in: Die Weltkunst, 1930-1944: https://digi.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/diglit/wk.
Walser, Rupert; Wittenbrink, Bernhard [eds.]. “Ohne Auftrag. Zur Geschichte des Kunsthandels”, vol. I, Frankfurt 1989.
Postwar Networks in Munich: Silvano Lodi and the Abel Grimmer Paintings
Art dealer Silvano Lodi’s start in Munich
Italian-born art dealer Silvano Lodi (1924-2020) started his business in 1962 or 1963 when he opened his gallery located at Brienner Strasse 12, and later (since 1965) at Wittelsbacherplatz 1 in Munich. Brienner Strasse is a prestigious street, situated at Königsplatz, which is the city’s gallery and museum quarter. Galerie Caspari was formally located there at number 52 before 1945, when it was owned by the Jewish art dealer Georg Caspari (1878-1930) and his wife Anna Caspari (1900-1941). The business operated from 1913 until 1939.
After World War II, Munich attracted art dealers who had been active during the war, dealing in looted artworks and selling to the Nazi elite. Julius Böhler was among these dealers who returned to Munich and reopened his gallery at Brienner Strasse no. 25. Karl Haberstock, one of the most important art dealers during the war returned to the Bavarian city as did Walter Andreas Hofer, art director of Hermann Göring’s art collection. Adolf Weinmüller reopened his auction house and ran it until his death in 1958. The Munich art market started to recover in the 1950s. It profited from its proximity to Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. With a revived art market and reestablished networks, Lodi came to Munich at a crucial time. He started out by trading books and antiques several years after his arrival. He advertised frequently in Weltkunst, a prominent art and antiques magazine established in Berlin in 1930. After the Allies had granted it a general license, the magazine was printed in Munich. The first postwar edition of Weltkunst appeared in 1949.
Lodi dealt mostly in Flemish and Dutch paintings. Six artworks (from a series of twelve) looted from the Schloss Collection were handled by Lodi in the postwar years: They came from a series dedicated to the twelve months of the year by Abel Grimmer (Schloss 68, 69, 70, 72, 73, 74). After the Schloss Collection was seized in April 1943, 262 paintings were selected for the Führermuseum in Linz including the Grimmer paintings. They were shipped in late November 1943 to the Führerbau on Arcisstrasse 12, which intersects with Brienner Strasse. On 29-30 April 1945, Schloss paintings stored at the Fürherbau were stolen. It was then that the set of 12 Grimmer paintings may have been broken up. Although it is not known when Lodi came into possession of the Grimmer paintings, our research indicates that it most likely happened between 1963 and 1970. Four Grimmer paintings (Schloss 69, 72, 73, 74) were with Galerie J. Kraus in Paris. The paintings were exhibited at Pictura Maastricht (the Netherlands) from 20-30 May 1977, and described by Kraus in the exhibition catalogue as The four seasons from the Schloss Collection. Subsequently, the paintings were split into two pairs. Two paintings possibly appeared at a sale in London in 1985 and two paintings were probably offered at a sale in New York in 1983.
Walter Bernt and Silvano Lodi
Other individuals who played significant roles in the post-1945 networks were art historians and art experts like Walter Bernt (1900-1980). Bernt, who came to Munich after the war, had been active as an art agent and dealer. He had helped the Gestapo in Prague under the name of Walther Berndt, appraising paintings that had been seized from Jewish collections. After the war, he offered his services to the Allies at the Munich Central Collecting Point by identifying looted art works that Allied forces had recovered. Bernt specialized in Dutch and Flemish old master paintings. There is an indirect link between Bernt and Lodi.
In 1969, Lodi published a catalogue for an exhibition held from 6-24 November 1969 at his gallery. One painting at this exhibition, a floral still life by Osias de Beert (I), was in the possession of Lodi. According to the provenance supplied by the RKD the painting was in Hermann Göring’s possession and then in 1965 went to the Alte Pinakothek in Munich (not in their catalogue). Bernt provided a certificate of authenticity for the painting in 1966, a year before Lodi advertised it in Weltkunst. Bernt produced many certificates for art dealers and galleries from the 1950s to the 1970s. He was familiar with the Schloss Collection. In his important three-volume survey of Dutch paintings Die Niederländischen Maler und Zeichner des 17. Jahrhunderts 1948-1979, Bernt mentioned ten Schloss paintings and provided photographs of the artworks that showed notable differences in the state of the paintings from the time they were seized and photographed by the Nazis. This means that Bernt had access to the photographs of the paintings taken after the 1943 confiscation or he had access to the artworks after the Führerbau theft. The majority of the Schloss paintings in his publications have not been restituted. Most of them are works by minor artists, which makes one wonder why he chose to highlight those specific paintings. His works were published by F. Bruckmann A.G., an established Munich-based publisher owned by the Bruckmann family who had been early promoters of Adolf Hitler. Bruckmann published books on art before World War II; the firm was located at Königsplatz in Munich across from the Führerbau leading into Brienner Strasse. In 1948, the Bruckmann family had their license restored. In 1966, the Stiebner family took over the company and renamed it.
Lodi closed his gallery in Munich in 1970 and moved to Lugano (Switzerland) where there were many galleries and eminent private collections, such as the Thyssen Gallery—which housed the private collection of Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza (1921-2002) at the family estate. Lugano appealed to German art dealers before and after World War II. Hans Wendland (1880-1965), a German art dealer and expert who was deeply enmeshed in the international trade in looted art, had operated near Lugano since 1926. Lodi eventually moved a few kilometers away to Campione D’Italia in Italy where he pursued his art dealing activities. He dedicated himself to Italian still life paintings and amassed his own collection. In 1991, his son, Silvano Lodi Junior, opened a gallery in Milan.
Petropoulos, Jonathan. “Art Dealer Networks in the Third Reich and in the PostWar Period.” Journal of Contemporary History. Vol. 52, No. 3. July 2017. 546-565. JSTOR. Accessed 14 June 2021. www.jstor.org/stable/44504062
“Osias Beert, Bloemen in een mand rechts een boeketje in Chinees vaasje, jaren 1610, no. 14707”. rkd.nl. RKD- Netherlands Institute for Art History. Accessed 15 June 2021. https://rkd.nl/explore/images/14707
“History of the collection I”. museothyssen.org. Thyssen-Bornemisza Museo Nacional. Accessed 15 June 2021. https://www.museothyssen.org/en/collection/history-collection-I
“History of the collection II”. museothyssen.org. Thyssen-Bornemisza Museo Nacional. Accessed 15 June 2021. https://www.museothyssen.org/en/collection/history-collection-I/II
“History”. silvanolodi.com. Silvano Lodi- Old Masters Modern & Contemporary Gallery. Accessed 15 June 2021. https://silvanolodi.com/history/