Saturday, 28 March 2015

Arthur Feldman Cuttings Awaiting Restitution


In a previous post I described the restitution of a charter to Germany, from where it had gone missing during the War. Its safe return is recounted on the blog of the Westfalen-Lippe archives. 

I show above and below images of two other items in the LostArt database, both from the collection of Arthur Feldman. According to an old Sotheby's press release (PDF here):

"Dr. Arthur Feldmann, a prominent lawyer and businessman in Brno, Czechoslovakia, began collecting drawings in around [sic] 1922; by the time the outbreak of World War II put an end to his acquisitions, he owned over 750 drawings and his collection was famous throughout Europe as one of the finest of its day.
The story of what happened to the Feldmanns and their collection following the outbreak of war is both dramatic and tragic, paralleling the fate of many other European Jewish families of the time. The collection was clearly high on the Nazis' hit-list: on the very morning that the Germans invaded Bohemia and Moravia, 15 March 1939, the Gestapo occupied the Feldmann villa in Brno, forcing Dr. and Mrs. Feldmann to leave the house and its entire contents - including the huge drawings collection in its specially constructed cabinets - and allowing them to take only a small suitcase of belongings. All their property was subsequently formally confiscated, and Dr. Feldmann was prevented from continuing his work as a lawyer, so they lived for the next two years from hand to mouth, on the charity of friends. Then, on 10 March 1941, Dr. Feldmann was arrested, tortured and sentenced to death, but he suffered a stroke, dying a few days later, on 16 March. His wife Gisela was deported, first to Theresienstadt and then to Auschwitz, where she in turn met her death." 
The image above shows a cutting, 6×5 cm, attributed to Simon Bening, which was was sold in London just after the War:
(LostArt ID 518690)
I guess that the initial "S" in its top right corner originally began the prayer "Salve sancta facies ..." in a Book of Hours.

The second cutting is described as St Cecilia distributing alms to a beggar, from a Missal:
(LostArt ID 518766)
Although Cecilia is mentioned in the rubric below the initial, and is sometimes represented distributing alms, I think it much more likely that the initial depicts St Elizabeth: the text seems to begin "Gau[de?] and continue "ely[zabeth?]"; Elizabeth's feast-day was 19 November; below the initial the first rubric refers to the Presentation (21 November), and the second refers to Cecilia (22 November).

Other items from Feldman's collection have been traced in the British Museum, Courtauld Institute, Metropolitan Museum, Cleveland Museum of Art, and elsewhere.

Of course, if any readers know the whereabouts of either cutting, I would be very interested to hear from you.

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