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Drawing “On Hiddensee” by Jakob Philipp Hackert restituted by the Kupferstichkabinett


The pen and ink wash drawing Auf Hiddensee (On Hiddensee, 1764) by Jakob Philipp Hackert was acquired in 1939. In the course of provenance research being carried out by the Kupferstichkabinett of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, it became evident that the previous owner, Friedrich Emil Guttsmann (1888–1959), had decided to sell the sheet as a result of his persecution by the Nazis. Recently, the Kupfersichkabinett returned the drawing to one of Guttsmann’s descendants.

The sales representative and businessman Friedrich Emil Guttsman (born in Breslau [now Wrocław] in 1888 – died 1959 in Ängelholm, Sweden) lost both his job and his long-time apartment in 1936 due to his Jewish heritage. The financial distress that this caused for him, his wife and their two sons forced him to sell off his valuables and a significant amount of his furniture and household items, including the Hackert drawing. In May of 1939, Guttsmann offered the drawing to the Nationalgalerie for 120 Reichmarks. As the drawing was heavily creased, the director of the gallery negotiated an additional price reduction, ultimately paying 100 Reichmarks.

Hermann Parzinger, President of the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz, said of the restitution: “Once we stumbled upon the backstory of this work during our investigations of the provenance histories of the Drawing Collection, we made contact with the heirs and offered to return the work. I am so pleased that they have come to Berlin in person to collect the work.” As part of the Kupferstichkabinett’s research project on the “Drawing Collection”, some 1,200 works have been analysed over a period of three years. Since then, five other works have been restituted to the heirs of their Jewish former owners, and in a number of other cases, the SPK has already established contact.