NEW YORK, NY.- The Israel Museum
announced today the restitution of the Paul Klee drawing Veil Dance, 1920, to the estate of German art collector Harry Fuld Jr. Fuld owned the work from 1932 until 1941, when it was confiscated in war-time Germany. The drawing was received in 1950 by the Israel Museums precursor, the Bezalel National Museum, through the Jewish Restitution Successor Organization (JRSO), established after World War II to distribute looted works of art whose owners or heirs were unknown to cultural organizations around the globe. The restitution was facilitated by the firm of the late German restitution expert Dr. Jost Von Trott zu Solz, after new research brought the drawings provenance to light. Veil Dance is now donated, as a part of the estate of Mr. Fulds heir, Gita Gisela Martin, to Magen David Adom UK, Israels equivalent service to the Red Cross.
The Israel Museum strives to serve as a model for responsible restitution, and we are pleased to do so now by restituting this work in exemplary fashion, as we have in other instances in the past, said James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Israel Museum. As part of a notable series of works on paper by Klee, Veil Dance amplified an important dimension of the Museums collection, which includes his masterful Angelus Novus, 1920, along with eighteen other works on paper by the artist. However, it is gratifying that, in restituting this work, it is donated to Magen David Adom UK, an organization that supports a major charitable cause in Israel.
Veil Dance was among the works of art Mr. Fuld deposited with the transportation firm Gustav Knauer when he fled Nazi persecution in 1937, with the intention of taking his collection with him to England. In 1941, following a new law by which Jewish citizens who had left Germany lost their German nationality and property, his citizenship and assets were revoked, and his art collection was confiscated by the Third Reich. In 1948, works of art and Judaica that were identified as having been looted from Jews or Jewish communities but were heirless and unclaimed were released from their central collecting points in Germany and given to JRSO, which undertook a systematic program to distribute this cultural legacy among museums, synagogues, and other Jewish organizations worldwide.
Veil Dance was one of roughly 250 paintings, 250 works on paper, and 700 objects of Judaica deposited by JRSO for safekeeping at the Bezalel National Museum, precursor to the Israel Museum, which, following its establishment in 1965, became their custodian. Through the years, the Museum has exhibited and published many of these works, all of which are catalogued and accessible on the Museums website, in order to facilitate their identification and, where possible, restitution to their original owners or their heirs. Veil Dance has been exhibited and published in conjunction with Israel Museum exhibitions throughout the past 45 years.
The restitution of Veil Dance continues the Museums history of responsible restitution, including most recently the restitution of two ancient Roman gold-glass medallions to the heirs of the Dzialynska Collection at Goluchow Castle in Poland in 2008. The Museum reacquired one medallion for its collection, and the second was purchased and placed with the Museum on extended loan. Among other examples in recent years, in 2005, Edgar Degas charcoal drawing Four Nude Female Dancers Resting (ca. 1898) was restituted to the heirs of Jacques Goudstikker, a noted Dutch art dealer who died while fleeing the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands. And in 2000, the Museum returned Camille Pissarros Boulevard Montmarte (1897) to the heir of Holocaust victim Max Silberberg, who placed the painting on long-term loan to the Museum.