Galerie Dada - Fine Art Reproductions
 


USA Call
+1 603 384 3228

Email us




   Main Menu

   Top 20 Artists
      Banksy
      Basquiat
      Bouguereau
      Chagall
      Dali
      Gauguin
      Hopper
      Kahlo
      Kandinsky
      Klimt
      Lempicka
      Lichtenstein
      Matisse
      Monet
      O'Keeffe
      Picasso
      Renoir
      Pollock
      Rothko
      Van Gogh

   Artists' Biographies
      A-C
      D-J
      K-O
      P-S
      T-Z

   Not found the painting you
   are looking for?
   Custom Orders



 

You can buy hand painted Edvard Munch and Gustav Klimt Fine Art Reproductions at Galerie Dada

Music, art and memory: Mahler's family fights for return of Munch oil painting masterpiece

Composer's widow lost her beloved oil painting when she fled Vienna in 1938

The first time Marina Mahler, granddaughter of the great composer Gustav and his talented, passionate wife, Alma, saw her grandmother's most beloved oil painting, she stayed still in front of it for a long time. "I felt I knew
Alma for the first time. This was her favorite oil painting. It meant everything to her."
The work is Edvard Munch's hypnotic Summer Night on the Beach, which hangs in the Austrian   Art   Gallery, one of the gems of a world-renowned collection of early 20th-century art.
Alma Mahler was an extraordinary figure, who married not only Gustav Mahler, but later the founder of the Bauhaus, Walter Gropius, and the writer Franz Werfel. She was a gifted composer, but Gustav begged her to "be a wife, and not a colleague".
After the war, growing up in Los Angeles, Marina Mahler remembers a woman who was "luminous in a way I have never seen anyone else to be"; who awed the neighbors by appearing in the California hills dressed in black, draped in jewels and emerging from a chauffeur-driven car; whose home in New York was "dark and mysterious with chests and cupboards and signed photos everywhere, and intriguing drawers - and the musty smell of Mitteleuropa".
The fate of her favorite oil painting, however, haunted her until the end of her life. She never accepted it rightfully belonged to the Austrian   Art   Gallery and fought endlessly to retrieve it - and now her granddaughter has taken up the battle.
As the tanks rolled into Vienna in 1938, Alma Mahler, then married to Werfel, a Jew, was forced to flee the country.
Her Nazi step-family - who undertook a murder-suicide pact at the end of the war - looted her belongings. Her half-sister Marie Eberstaller even made off with Alma 's carpets and silver. And without her permission they sold her beloved Munch to the Austrian   Art   Gallery . "She fought to her deathbed for the return of her oil painting," said Ms Mahler.
Ms Mahler's hopes were dashed when, in 1999, the Austrian restitution committee ruled that the oil painting lawfully belonged to the art gallery. But now, in the light of heavyweight support from such figures as Franz-Stefan Meissel, a Vienna University-based legal expert in restitution cases, and new Austrian legislation aimed at settling remaining restitution questions, she is determined to get the decision reversed.
According to Professor Meissel, if the oil painting were restored to Ms Mahler it would represent a "triumph of justice" - albeit late in the day.
"I would like to conclude this. This issue is not completed, and it needs to end," the British-born Ms Mahler said. "It's time for both sides to be gracious. Our new research is completely irrefutable."
In the coming weeks she will file another formal restitution request to the Austrian authorities - and, according to her lawyer, Gert-Jan van den Bergh, "take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that justice will be done".
It has been a dramatic few weeks in the Nazi loot restitution game. On Wednesday the Dutch government announced it was returning 202 oil paintings, valued at around $50m (£28.7m), to the descendants of the Jewish collector Jacques Goudstikker. And in Vienna itself, thousands of art lovers queued up outside the Austrian Art Gallery last month for a final glimpse of one of the world's best-loved oil paintings - Adele Bloch-Bauer I, a shimmering, sensuous, gold-flecked portrait made by Gustav Klimt at the height of his powers, which, if put to the hammer, could become the most expensive oil painting ever sold.
The Klimt was the focus of a six-year struggle by its Californian claimant, and it was resolved by arbitration only after the Austrian state itself faced trial in the US . Austria is desperately calculating how, or whether, it can afford to raise the €100m (£68m) required to buy back this linchpin of its national collection.
What the Klimt case has in common with Ms Mahler's is, according to Mr Van den Bergh, that "in both cases the Austrian government has had to twist the law and the historical facts in order to maintain a justified claim".
The Mahler family's struggle to regain the oil painting goes back almost to the day it was lost: almost 60 years of wrangling in and out of court.
It was a work with extraordinary emotional meaning for Alma . She was given it by her second husband, Walter Gropius, on the birth of their child, Manon. The oil painting became inextricably linked, for Alma , with her daughter's tragically short life: she died of polio aged 18. Much mourned, Manon was the dedicatee of Alban Berg's heart-stoppingly beautiful Violin Concerto. "No oil painting has ever touched me in the way this one has," Alma wrote in her autobiography, Mein Leben.
In 1937, she entered a loan agreement with the Austrian   Art   Gallery for the safekeeping of her works of art. At this time, her mother was dead but her secessionist painter stepfather, Carl Moll (who had once presented Alma with a copy of Mein Kampf, and whom Alma called her "arch-enemy") was very much on the scene, as was her half-sister Marie Eberstaller. After Alma left in 1938, Moll removed the oil painting from the art gallery without her approval - then, in 1939, he and Marie sold it back to the museum. But, Alma said, it was never theirs to sell.
In 1953, Alma filed a claim for the oil painting, which was upheld by the Austrian restitution commission; but it was overturned on a technicality.
Until her death in New York in 1964, when Marina Mahler was a teenager, Alma tried to get the oil painting back. A new restitution law in 1998 gave Ms Mahler a fresh chance, and she brought her claim to the restitution advisory board the following year.
The judgment acknowledged Ms Mahler's arguments "on historical and moral grounds" - but threw out her claim on a technicality, saying the matter had already been dealt with in 1953.
According to Mr Van den Bergh: "One is left amazed to witness the enactment of new restitution laws calling upon the Austrian government to act on the basis of morality and then see a government-appointed advisory board rely on purely procedural grounds to deny a morally just claim in a clear-cut case. I even see it as a trifle cynical to confirm Marina Mahler's claim on moral grounds then deny it on purely formalistic ones."
This week the Austrian   Art   Gallery declined to comment on the case. "The advisory committee has taken a decision in the past, and they decided it was not a case for restitution. Perhaps the case will come up again, but it is not our decision," said a spokesman. The Austrian government yesterday said that it "strictly rejected" Mr Van den Bergh's claims.
Gottfried Toman, of the Austrian office of state attorneys, who commented on behalf of the culture minister, Elisabeth Gehrer, stressed that the advisory committee had recommended the return of more than 5,300 artworks since 1998.
Ms Mahler wants to see the end of this, and clearly won't give up until she does. "I truly hope, after years of delays and refusals, that Alma - who with great sadness and a deep sense of betrayal fought to her deathbed for the return of her oil painting - will at last be given just treatment and rightfully honored as one of Austria's most prominent daughters."

 

Back