Christie’s has announced the restitution sale of Cranach the Elder’s portrait of the Elector of Saxony:
Lucas Cranach the Elder’s Portrait of John Frederick I, Elector of Saxony,called John Frederick the Magnanimous, once part of Fritz Gutmann’s renowned art collection in the pre-war Netherlands. Missing for nearly 80 years before its recent rediscovery in America, Christie’s is privileged to have facilitated the return of this important work to the Gutmann family. Cranach’s Portrait of John Frederick I, Elector of Saxony will be presented in public exhibitions in Hong Kong (March 30 – April 4) and New York leading up to the Old Masters auction on April 19, 2018 in Christie’s Rockefeller Galleries with an estimate of $1,000,000-2,000,000.
ABOUT THE GUTMANN COLLECTION
Cranach’s Portrait of John Frederick I, Elector of Saxony had occupied pride of place in the Gutmann family estate ‘Bosbeek’ in Heemstede, Netherlands. It was last publicly displayed in Rotterdam in 1938, on loan from Fritz Gutmann to the Museum Boymans.
Following the rise of Nazism and then the Occupation of The Netherlands in May 1940, the Gutmann collection was a particular focus of interest for the Nazi high command and their agents. The Gutmann collection was comprehensively looted (confiscated and forcibly ‘sold’ during the war), with many works acquired for Hitler and Goering. The family’s possessions were scattered and tragically Fritz and his wife Louise were murdered in the concentration camps of Theresienstadt and Auschwitz respectively.
While the exact path of this painting after 1940 is unknown, the quest to trace and recover it has been a cherished hope for two generations of Gutmann heirs. Simon Goodman, grandson of Fritz, has dedicated many years to researching the lost collection, successfully reclaiming many works for his family. He continues to seek a number of significant Old Master and Impressionist paintings. Simon has written of his experiences in his acclaimed book The Orpheus Clock: the search for my family’s art treasures stolen by the Nazis.
ABOUT THE RETURN
Following an approach by persons in possession of the work, who acknowledged and addressed the losses suffered by the family at the hands of the Nazis, Christie’s facilitated a return to the Gutmann heirs. The return of the painting honors international initiatives to address the ongoing challenge of Holocaust-era assets.