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Restituted Work from Hans Purrmann’s Collection to Remain with the Gemäldegalerie as a Loan

16.01.2020
Gemäldegalerie

Together with the heirs of the artist Hans Purrmann, the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz has organised the restitution of a work from the Gemäldegalerie of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. Purrmann was forced to sell the fragment of a painting by Hans Baldung Grien in 1937 because of his difficult situation as a “degenerate artist”. Thanks to the generosity of Purrmann’s heirs, the fragment of the painting Lot (ca. 1537) by Hans Baldung Grien will remain on exhibit at the Gemäldegalerie for the next 10 years as a loan.

Purrmann was publicly denounced by the Nazis early on, after which he was largely unable to sell his work. In May 1937, he sold the fragment of a painting by Hans Baldung, called Grien, to the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. Although the price he received for the work corresponded to the market value at the time, looking at the situation from a contemporary perspective, Purrmann only sold the work because of his financial troubles, which were brought about by his persecution.

Lot Fragment by Hans Baldung Grien to Remain at the Gemäldegalerie for 10 Years

The loaned painting fragment Lot (ca. 1537) by Hans Baldung Grien will be on display at the Gemäldegalerie. It once formed part of a much larger, rectangular panel that depicted the old man with his two naked daughters. According to the Bible, the two daughters got their father drunk in order to conceive children by him because there were no other men available following the fall of Sodom and Gomorrah. Baldung created at least two almost identical versions of this composition.

Hans Purrmann

Hans Purrmann (10 April 1880–17 April 1966) was born in Speyer and moved to Paris in 1905 after completing his studies at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste. Purrmann was forced to leave Paris at the beginning of the First World War and took up residence in Berlin in 1916. It was here, at Paul Cassirer’s art dealership, that his first major solo exhibition was held. In the years that followed, the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin went on to purchase a number of Purrmann’s works.

During the Nazi era, his art was declared “degenerate”. As early as 1933, his murals in Speyer were shrouded with swastika flags, and a number of his works were seized from museums. From that point on, he had difficulty selling his work. In 1935, Purrmann was made director of the Villa Romana in Florence, though the position was unpaid, meaning he was left without a steady income. In 1943, he ultimately emigrated to Switzerland, where he passed away in Montagnola in 1966.