Courtauld Institute of Art Spoliation Claim

6 March 2006


The Courtauld Institute of Art announced today that on 24 February 2006 it had received a claim from the heirs of Dr Arthur Feldmann in relation to three drawings in its collection.

The works in question are:

Giuseppe Bibiena (attributed to) (1696-1756), Architectural capriccio (D.1952.RW.3851)

Carl Ruthart (attributed to) (1630 - after 1703), A lion (D.1952.RW.3852)

Frans van Mieris the Elder (attributed to) (1635-1681), A dog lying down (D.1952.RW.3853)

The claim states that the drawings were part of the renowned collection of Dr Arthur Feldmann (1877-1941) of Brno in former Czechoslovakia. The collection is known to have been looted by the Gestapo in 1939 and Dr Feldmann and his wife subsequently perished. Since the war, the surviving family has spent many years searching for the collection, which numbered over 750 drawings. The three drawings were acquired by Colnaghi at a sale at Sothebys, London, in October 1946 and sold to Sir Robert Witt (1872-1952). They form part of the Witt bequest of over 3000 Old Master drawings which was made to the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London, in 1952.

Deborah Swallow, Director of the Courtauld Institute of Art, said that "The Courtauld Institute will be giving this matter urgent attention and will work closely with the heirs of Dr Feldmann to achieve a resolution."
All three works are recorded as part of the Courtauld Institute's lists on the National Museums Directors' Conference website. Images are viewable via the Courtauld Institute's website ( <> ).

Notes to Editors:

In June 1998 the National Museum Directors' Conference established a working group to examine the issues surrounding the spoliation of art during the Holocaust and World War II period. The working group is chaired by Tate's Director, Sir Nicholas Serota. Discussions by the working group resulted in a Statement of Principles and Proposed Actions for member institutions. The statement was finalised and adopted by the NMDC in November 1998 and presented to the Washington Conference on Holocaust Assets in December 1998.

In 1999 the UK's National Museums, Galleries and Libraries including the British Museum, National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, National Galleries of Scotland, Imperial War Museum, Tate Gallery and Victoria and Albert Museum, began a painstaking process of research to identify any suspect works in their collections. Details of the works which have been identified as having gaps or question marks in their provenance during the period 1933-45 are regularly updated and published on the NMDC website. The site has a full search mechanism.

A similar statement was issued by the Museums & Galleries Commission in April 1999, as guidance for non-national museums and galleries and a group of university and local authority museums subsequently began to consider what provenance research they might undertake. Research on non-national museum collections has been supported by funding from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council.

Press Enquiries:
For the Courtauld Institute of Art:
Sue Bond, Sue Bond Public Relations 01359 271085

Erica Bolton, Bolton & Quinn 020 7221 5000 (5 lines)