Renaissance masters offer a snapshot of a once vast collection plundered by the Nazis

·2-min read
The Worcester Art Museum will show 14 artworks that previously belonged to the Viennese collector, Richard Neumann, including 'Madonna with Child' by Neri di Bicci.

An upcoming exhibition at the US state of Massachusetts' Worcester Art Museum, opening April 10, highlights the efforts of the collector Dr. Richard Neumann and his family to recover artworks confiscated by the Nazis during the Second World War -- a long-term undertaking that the family has been working on for more than 70 years.

This exhibition, titled "What the Nazis Stole from Richard Neumann (and the search to get it back)," will showcase a dozen Renaissance Old Master paintings and two sculptures from the personal collection of Richard Neumann. Among them feature works by celebrated artists of the Italian Renaissance, such as Alessandro Magnasco, Giovanni Battista Pittoni, Alessandro Longhi, Alessandro Algardi and Giuseppe Sanmartino.

Richard Neumann started his personal art collection at a young age, guided by eminent specialists such as Otto Benesch and Lilly Fröhlich-Bume. Owning over 200 works by the time of the Second World War, the Viennese industrialist fled Austria when the country was annexed by Nazi Germany in 1938, leaving behind part of his collection, which was requisitioned for Austrian collections. He took around 40 items with him to Paris, where he was forced to sell the works to fund his escape, leaving France with his family for Spain then Cuba.

Since Richard Neumann's death in 1959, his descendants have been pursuing efforts in Austria and in France to recover some of the family's former collection. These efforts are the focus of "What the Nazis Stole" at the Worcester Art Museum, in which the collector's Vienna interior has notably been reproduced to show visitors how the works were displayed at the time.

"Richard Neumann was clearly a discerning collector with an eye for fine works of art and, at the same time, a connoisseur who believed in the obligation to promote the role of the arts in civic life," said Claire Whitner, the James A. Welu Curator of European Art at the Worcester Art Museum. "While his family's struggle for the restitution of his collection is all too emblematic of the challenges faced by many other Jewish collectors of that period, we are tremendously grateful to his family for their generosity in committing to this long-term loan of these works, which will make it possible for a new generation of audiences to admire them, as well as for us to conduct new research and scholarship."

While "What the Nazis Stole" is scheduled to run April 10, 2021 to January 16, 2022 at the Worcester Art Museum, works loaned for the show by the family of Richard Neumann will go on to join the American museum's existing Old Master collection galleries.

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