Culture

“Degenerate” painting returns

Kneeling Nude by Alfred Partikel
Kneeling Nude by Alfred Partikel © Museen der Stadt Nürnberg, Kunstsammlungen. Photo by Anja Eichler

In 1922 the city of Nuremberg acquired a painting by the East Prussian painter Alfred Partikel (1888-1945) from an art dealer in Berlin. The mayor at the time, Dr Hermann Luppe (1874-1945), had campaigned to purchase contemporary art for the municipal gallery from all German landscapes, in order to provide the population with an overview of current art events. Fifteen years later, in 1937, under the National Socialists’ regime, the painting was removed from the gallery and confiscated, along with over 100 other works. Nobody knew what had happened to the artwork. The painting recently reappeared in northern Germany and has been donated back to the Nuremberg art collections.

“Kneeling Nude” was probably painted by Alfred Partikel shortly before its sale. Partikel was a professor at the Königsberg Art Academy and a member of the Berlin Secession. The National Socialists classified his works as “degenerate art”, leading to the painting being confiscated. 

Partikel died in obscure circumstances shortly after the end of the Second World War. In the meantime, the painting presumably came into the hands of artist Hugo Körtzinger through the art dealer Bernhard A. Böhmer. It was likely hidden next to several works by Ernst Barlach in his studio in the Wendland.

Prof. Arne Körtzinger, a marine researcher from Kiel, discovered the painting in the estate of his late great-uncle Hugo. On the back, he found an old inventory sticker of the Nuremberg municipal art collections. He promptly decided to return it to the City of Nuremberg.

The reacquisition came just at the right time to include the painting in the upcoming exhibition at the Stadtmuseum within the Fembo-Haus: “Luppe’s Gallery. The Art Collections of the City of Nuremberg in the Weimar Republic”, running from 25 June to 1 November 2021. Several works confiscated by the National Socialists will be reunited here for the first time.

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