|Oil on canvas||Oil on canvas|
|Size||81 x 100 cm|
|Signature||signed bottom right: Jacoba v. Heemskerck|
Provenance is established. The work does not qualify as a cultural asset extorted due to Nazi persecution.
A long road
Fritz Schön (1881–?) was an entrepreneur from Werdau in Saxony with international connections. In Berlin he hobnobbed with supporters of young art and he was an early collector of Wassily Kandinsky and Lyonel Feininger.
In 1919, at Ernst Arnold’s gallery in Dresden, he decided to buy “Landscape, Picture I”. The painting was in the show “Der Sturm: Expressionists, Futurists, Cubists”, sent on tour by the Berlin gallery “Der Sturm” and its legendary owner Herwarth Walden.
Thank you for your letter of 3 May. Good that Picture I has sold in Dresden.”
Jacoba van Heemskerck to her Berlin agent Herwarth Walden, Wageningen, 9 May 1919
In 1931 Fritz Schön became a Swiss citizen and lived in Ascona, not far from Monte Verità. Ascona was a magical place for the art community in the Weimar Republic. People settled there on a quest for spirituality and a life free of possessions. So in 1929 Schön had left 929 works from his collection at Ferdinand Möller’s gallery on Schöneberger Ufer in Berlin and deposited others with the Nationalgalerie. He would have been happy to sell, had the price been right. But as Ferdinand Möller (1882–1956) could not afford such sums, most of these works remained in storage in Berlin for many years, among them “Landscape, Picture I”.
“If these things fetch such low prices, it is better not to think of selling but to continue taking pleasure in them when one sees them now and then at Mr Möller’s. It would be even better if friends could ‘use’ them to hang on the wall and one could catch a glimpse of them occasionally.”
Fritz Schön to Ferdinand Möller, Ascona, 10 June 1936
Just before the exhibition “Degenerate Art” opened in Munich on 19 July 1937, a watershed in the defamation of modern art under the Nazi regime, the works entrusted to Möller were sent back to the Schön family.
The collector left Switzerland, probably when the war broke out, and went first to the United States and later to Canada. In October 1942, his son Robert left them to be sold at the Dominion Gallery in Montreal. He had probably first made contact with its manager, the Jewish art dealer Max Stern (1904–1987) in exile from Düsseldorf, in London in 1938. Like Fritz Schön, Stern had loaned works for the Exhibition of Twentieth Century German Art at the New Burlington Galleries, a plucky testimony to the quality of German Modernism and an open challenge to Nazi art policy.
In 1948 Max Stern finally sold “Landscape, Picture I” as “Mountain Landscape” to the Canadian entrepreneur William Hanbury Budden. By 1974 the painting had been returned to the Dominion Gallery. In 1978 Stern sold it again, this time back to the Netherlands, where the work had been created 65 years earlier. Here “Landscape, Picture I” was discovered by the Hamburg gallery Brockstedt, well aware that the fledgling Berlinische Galerie was taking an interest in the work of forgotten artists.