The Kunsthaus Zurich withdraws five paintings from the Bührle Collection

The Kunsthaus Zurich, one of the largest Swiss museums, has announced the withdrawal of five paintings currently on display and on loan from the Bührle Foundation. It has a collection of 600 works of impressionist and modern art created and then bequeathed by the Swiss arms collector and manufacturer of German origin, Émile Bührle (1890-1956) who sold weapons to Nazi Germany. This withdrawal concerns five master paintings: Portrait of the Sculptor Louis Joseph by Gustave Courbet, Monet’s garden in Giverny by Claude Monet, Georges-Henri Manuel by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, The old tower by Vincent van Gogh and The rising road by Paul Gauguin.

Paul Gauguin (1848-1903), The rising road1884, oil on canvas, 46 x 38 cm, EG Bührle collection.

The withdrawal decision follows the Foundation’s request, which explains that it is following new guidelines recently issued by the American Department of State on the provenance of works. She announces that she will carry out an investigation into the conditions of acquisition of these paintings.

A sixth painting in the collection – The Sultana by Édouard Manet – is debated. The Émile Bührle Foundation believes that the new regulations do not concern this painting because it has not been proven that Max Silberberg, owner of the painting and who died in deportation, sold the painting under duress. However, the Foundation offered financial compensation to his heirs.

Claude Monet (1840-1926), Monet's garden at Giverny, 1895, oil on canvas, 81 x 92 cm, EG Bührle collection.  © public domain

Claude Monet (1840-1926), Monet’s garden at Giverny1895, oil on canvas, 81 x 92 cm, EG Bührle collection.

The exhibition of the Bührle collection by the Kunsthaus Zurich has been the subject of controversy since 2021 and its presentation in the new building constructed by David Chipperfield. The Foundation, which lent 170 paintings to the museum, is accused of not having seriously studied the provenance of the works acquired by the arms dealer. A committee was set up to give its opinion on the mediation of the exhibition but it resigned in October 2023 dissatisfied with the contextualization of the exhibition.

Similar Posts