Back Home at the Kupferstichkabinett: The Return of Eduard Gaertner’s “Der Leipziger Platz in Berlin”, Formerly Presumed Lost


The work Der Leipziger Platz in Berlin (1862) by Eduard Gaertner has recently returned to the Kupferstichkabinett (Museum of Prints and Drawings). It was slated to be auctioned in September 2021 through the auctioneers Mellors & Kirk, Nottingham, United Kingdom. After a Kupferstichkabinett curator identified the drawing as a war loss from the collection, the consignor agreed to its return, thanks to the intervention of Nigel Kirk, the auction house’s director. The work has only been back in Berlin for a few days.

Geh. Kommissionsrath F. C. Glaser (Privy Councilor) made a gift of Der Leipzigerplatz in Berlin (Ident.-no. SZ E. Gaertner 2) to the drawings collection at the Nationalgalerie on 17 January 1891. The Kupferstichkabinett Collection is now part of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. The highly-esteemed work on paper was loaned to Hitler’s Reich Chancellery in 1933 but did not return after the Second World War. It has been considered a war loss since 1945.

To learn that a work believed lost has not been destroyed but has instead survived over decades is in itself cause for joy. If this work also comes back, then the delight is tenfold. I thank the consignor and Mr Nigel Kirk for returning the drawing.

Dagmar Korbacher, director of the Kupferstichkabinett

Anna Pfäfflin, curator of 19th-century art at the Kupferstichkabinett, commented:

Dr Alexander Kunkel from Kunkel Fine Art in Munich made us aware of the auction scheduled in Nottingham last September. We quickly established that the drawing was indeed a war loss. Seeing a work for the first time with your own eyes ‒ previously known only from reproductions and the files ‒ is truly extraordinary.