Catalogue description Registry Number: CCG 180/866. MFA and A general correspondence. Correspondence between ...

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Details of FO 1057/273
Reference: FO 1057/273
Registry Number: CCG 180/866.

MFA and A general correspondence.

Correspondence between the Reparations, Deliveries and Restitutions Division [RDR] and the Monuments, Fine Art and Archives section [MFA and A] as well as the Control Commission for Germany [British element, CCG] regarding the 'disposal of certain Nazi works of art', dated July-August 1946. This includes a staff memorandum to be presented to the deputy military governor concerning 'a statue made for the Luftwaffe and found in the North Rhine region, two large tapestries made for Ribbentrop in 1944 and the monstrances made at Hitler's order for the National Shrine he established in Brunswick cathedral'. According to the CCG, these objects came into a somewhat different category from the Nazi Monuments and Memorials which are the subject of Control Council Directive No 30 and at the present time were all located in London, except for the statue. As stated in the memorandum, the statue represented an idealised German airman [nude] by Kolbe, considerably larger than life size, which, in view of its subject, would most likely not be wanted by the RAF 'to adorn any of their own establishments'. The deputy military governor consequently decreed that the statue should be offered to the Tate Gallery, in light of its status as 'a considerable work' and of the Gallery's lack of any works by Kolbe. The tapestries, declared instead as 'worthless and politically undesirable', should be given to the Royal School of Needlework in order to 'make good use of the large quantities of gold thread that they contain'. Finally, the two monstrances, 'equally offensive but highly curious historically', should be offered to the Imperial War Museum.

Further correspondence focuses on the request by the Egyptian government for the restitution of the Nefertiti head, dated July 1946. In this case, no action was taken as 'the head is in safe custody and at the present time it is regarded as part of the cultural heritage of the world, located in Germany'.

Correspondence dated March 1946 regarding the discovery of a picture purchased in Holland and found in Hamburg. The oil painting in question is 'Fishmonger - woman' by Metsu, size 32 x 25 cm, purchased from Albert Weber, Amsterdam, for RM 30,000 and sold in the same year [not specified] to Mr Arnold Mergell for RM 40,000.

Further correspondence between the MFA and A and the RDR statistics branch dated January 1946 regarding works of art acquired in Holland and France during the war by the Heimathaus des Niederrheins, in Krefeld, and mostly stored at Kochendorf, in the US zone. The attached lists are of three kinds: a list of pictures acquired abroad by the art dealer Artur Malmede, formerly of Cologne, which remained in his possession and had been taken into custody at the Central Repository at Schloss Dyck, in the North Rhine province, a list of seven more pictures of the Ribbentrop collection, and twenty-six items of textiles [carpets, tapestries etc], at the time stored in the Flakturm, Hamburg, together with the forty-seven other pictures [not specified] of the collection found in Hamburg, of which a list had already been provided [not included in this piece]. According to the report, with regard to the Ribbentrop collection, the provenance of the pictures and textiles was mostly unknown, though in the case of the paintings there was 'ocular proof of French residence in the case of seventeen of the total of fifty-four pictures and a supposition that many more emanate from France' [none of these lists are included in the piece].

Further correspondence from the statistics office of the RDR regarding the restitution of a certain number of church bells [785 to Belgium, 300 to Holland and 28 to France], dated January 1946, and two more notes introducing the accession list of the Wuppertal museum and a list of works of art and objects purchased in Holland during the occupation by the Thaulow museum, in Kiel, and the Museum fuer Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, in Luebeck, dated May 1946. With regard to the eight page chronological listing of the acquisitions, in occupied Holland, by the Museum fuer Kunst und Kulturgeschichte of Luebeck, these included a substantial number of brass objects, cutlery, china and furniture pieces as well as a few paintings: 'Notar' and 'landscape' paintings by the School of A v Ostade, bought in July 1942 from Etienne Dalauncy, Amsterdam [as written] and worth respectively hfl 10,000 and 14,000; two oil pictures, from the Middle Ages, bought in July 1942 from Dr Oelze, Amsterdam, and worth, together with a spoon, the sum of hfl 6,225; a 'picture of a man' possibly by Kniller [marked with a?, Gottfried Kniller later known as Godfrey Kneller], bought in July 1942 from Mak van Waay, Amsterdam, and worth hfl 537,60; Portrait of a boy by Kniller [marked with?], bought in July 1942 from Lippman, Rosenthal and Co, Amsterdam, and worth hfl 160, as well as five more pictures still originally owned by Lippman, Rosenthal and Co and bought in 1943: 'Bird catcher's still life', worth hfl 40, 'Shooting trophies', worth hfl 200, 'Farmers drinking', worth hfl 2,000, 'Interior of church [17th century]', worth hfl 1,750, 'Meadow with cows', worth hfl 800; and, one small alabaster relief representing 'the Crucifixion', worth hfl 400 and bought from Dr Oelme [faded, not very readable], Amsterdam in 1943.

The list of objects of art purchased by the Thaulow museum in Kiel also includes a certain number of decorated tiles and glass, several textiles, carpets, porcelain, faience and furniture, including a few books and paintings: a copy of 'Theatrum artis moribondi' by J Hondius, on flexible parchment and 'French lady teaching in school in Delft' by Marie Strick, taken from the Matinus Nyhoff bookshop [as written, later spelled Martinus Nijhoff] in 1942 for fl 275 and 300 respectively.

The listing also comprises a brief list of the names and addresses of the antique dealers involved in the museum's purchases: Martinus Nijhoffs [as written] bookshop, The Hague, M Mogrobi, Amsterdam, Kunsthuis Rubens, The Hague, Matth Hart, Amsterdam, M L Lemaire, Amsterdam, S E Mossel, Amsterdam, Weese and Klepman, Amsterdam, Aalderink, Amsterdam, J Denys, Amsterdam, C C Muiselaar, Amsterdam, C A Drieman, Amsterdam, A Staal, Amsterdam, and A Smits and Co, Amsterdam.

The piece further contains a list of objects acquired by the Museum fuer Kunst und Kulturgeschichte of Luebeck in Belgium, dated May 1946, mostly consisting of furniture and of one picture [not specified] by Gilles Mostaert, worth RM 10,120, purchased in October 1942 from Lagrand, Brussels. Further material includes the correspondence between the RDR and the pool of interpreters of the translation branch of the Control Commission requesting translations of the lists of 'German accessions of works of art', dated January-February 1946.

Note: This document forms part of the Looted Art Collection; records selection and descriptions reproduced by the kind permission of the Commission for Looted Art in Europe.
Date: 1946
Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Former reference in its original department: CCG 180/866
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Closure status: Open Document, Open Description

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