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Nazi Looted Renoir Painting Is Returned, and Metropolitan Museum Acquires Juan Gris Painting

Plus, an 8th-century Sican gold funeral mask is returned to Peru, and a Jack B. Yeats painting sells at auction.

Pierre Auguste Renoir, “Deux Femmes Dans Un Jardin (Two Women in a Garden)” (1919) (image courtesy the Museum of Jewish Heritage)

A Pierre Auguste Renoir painting “Deux Femmes Dans Un Jardin (Two Women in a Garden)” (1919), looted by Nazis during World War II, has been returned to its legal owner. The painting belonged to Alfred Weinberger, an art collector in prewar Paris. Nazis stole the work from a bank vault in Paris in 1941. The painting appeared again in an art sale in Johannesburg in 1975, again in London in 1977, and again in Zurich in 1999 before finally resurfacing at Christie’s in New York in 2013, where it was put up for auction. At the time, the painting was said to be worth between $150,000 and $200,000. In a ceremony at the Museum of Jewish Heritage on Wednesday, the painting was returned to Weinberger’s granddaughter and last remaining heir, Sylvie Sulitzer. The painting will be on display at the Museum of Jewish Heritage’s gallery, A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, until September 16.

Juan Gris, "The Musician's Table" (1914), charcoal, wax crayon, gouache, cut-and-pasted printed wallpaper, blue and white laid papers, transparentized paper, newsprint, and brown wrapping paper; selectively varnished on canvas (image courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Juan Gris, “The Musician’s Table” (1914), charcoal, wax crayon, gouache, cut-and-pasted printed wallpaper, blue and white laid papers, transparentized paper, newsprint, and brown wrapping paper; selectively varnished on canvas (image courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has acquired Juan Gris’s “The Musician’s Table” (1914) through funds given by Leonard A. Lauder for the Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection. The Collection now includes 83 works by Georges Braque, Juan Gris, Fernand Léger, and Pablo Picasso. “‘The Musician’s Table’ deepens the rich holdings of the Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection, the most important of its kind,” said Max Hollein, director of the Met. “It joins six other collages from this pivotal moment of the artist’s career, forming an unparalleled representation of his experimental forays into this medium.” Gris’s newly acquired work is now on view in gallery 908.

A ten-panel coromandel "Birthday" screen," a decorative piece from the late 17th century, sold Wednesday for $60,000 (image courtesy Sotheby's)
A ten-panel coromandel “Birthday” screen,” a decorative piece from the late 17th century, sold Wednesday for $60,000 (image courtesy Sotheby’s)

The Berkshire Museum has sold 20 of 22 works that trustees removed from its collection last year in an effort to build its endowment and invest in improvements to the Museum. Three pieces have been sold to public institutions or nonprofits. Two of those pieces include Albert Bierstadt’s “Giant Redwood Trees of California” and Benjamin West’s “Daniel Interpreting to Belshazzar the Handwriting on the Wall.” The third piece, Alexander Calder’s “Dancing Torpedo Shape” was sold to the Calder Foundation. A series of other works, including Norman Rockwell paintings, a Chinese vase, and decorative screens, have been sold at auction and/or to private buyers. Once the sales are complete, the museum will issue a final report to the attorney general to disclose the funds they have raised.

Translated text: "Grateful to the government of Germany for the recovery and custody of the #MáscaraSicán, part of our cultural heritage dating back to 1200 CE. Our good will return to Peru after 19 years, thanks to the efforts of German authorities, @CancilleriaPeru and the @MinCulturaPe (via Twitter)
Translated text: “Grateful to the government of Germany for the recovery and custody of the #MáscaraSicán, part of our cultural heritage dating back to 1200 CE. Our good will return to Peru after 19 years, thanks to the efforts of German authorities, @CancilleriaPeru and the @MinCulturaPe (via Twitter)

Germany returned a pre-Columbian, 8th-century Sican gold funeral mask to Peru last week, according to the Peruvian Culture Ministry. “I’m happy to receive one of the most emblematic assets from the north Peruvian cultures, the Sican Mask,” said the Peruvian Minister of Culture Patricia Balbuena in a statement. The mask was reported missing in 1999 and then confiscated by Interpol in Wiesbaden, Germany. In December 2016, the Munich regional court ordered the mask to be returned to Peru.

A three-rotor German Enigma Machine (image courtesy the Polish History Museum)
A three-rotor German Enigma Machine (image courtesy the Polish History Museum)

The Polish History Museum has acquired an Enigma Machine financed by Prescient, a technology company operating in Kraków, Poland. The Enigma Machine is a cipher machine invented by German engineer Artur Scherbius at the end of World War I. In the 1930s, mathematicians and cryptanalysts worked on breaking the codes of Enigma Machines, and during World War II, cryptanalysts including Alan Turing built a cryptanalytic capability to decipher Nazi communications. Cracking Enigma code created a foundation for modern day computer science.“The cracking of the Enigma code by Polish mathematicians is one of the key elements of not only Polish history, but modern global history,” said Robert Kostro, director of the Polish History Museum. The Enigma Machine will be on display at the Polish History Museum in Warsaw when it opens in 2021.

Christie’s sale of the collection of Juan de Beistegui in Paris brought in a total of €7,764,000 (~$9,025,000) on September 10. The sale’s top lot, a pair of sheaths from the epoch of Louis XIV, sold for €727,500 (~$846,000).

Ma Xinle, "Horses" (2012) (image courtesy Christie's)
Ma Xinle, “Horses” (2012) (image courtesy Christie’s)

Christie’s sale of Fine Chinese Paintings in New York brought in a total of $3,302,250 on September 11. The sale’s top lot, Ma Xinle’s “Horses” (2012) sold for $312,500.

Christie’s sale of Rooms as Portraits: Michael S. Smith, Eaton Square, London brought in a total of £4,076,562 (~$5,313,000) on September 12. The sale’s top lot, Léon Joseph Florentin Bonnat’s painting “Samson’s Youth” (1891), sold for £1,568,750 (~$2,046,000).

Jack B. Yeats, "Summer Evening in September" (image courtesy Sotheby's)
Jack B. Yeats, “Summer Evening in September” (1949) (image courtesy Sotheby’s)

Sotheby’s sale of Irish art in London brought in a total of £2,680,125 (~$3,493,000) on September 11. The sale’s top lot, Jack B. Yeates‘s painting “Sunday Evening in September” (1949) sold for £394,000 (~$514,000).

An Exceptional Large Limestone Figure of a Bodhisattva, Tang Dynasty, 39 1/2 inches (image courtesy Sotheby's)
An Exceptional Large Limestone Figure of a Bodhisattva, Tang Dynasty, 39 1/2 inches (image courtesy Sotheby’s)

Sotheby’s sale of Junkunc: Chinese Buddhist Sculpture in New York brought in a total of $7,523,250 on September 12. The sale’s top lot, an Exceptional Large Limestone Figure of a Bodhisattva Tang Dynasty, sold for $4,335,000.

Japanese American National Museum (image via Wikimedia Commons)
Japanese American National Museum (image via Wikimedia Commons)

The Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles has received a $525,000 bequest from the estate of the late Setsuko Oka, a museum member who passed away in October 2017. The museum will establish a Setsuko Oka Japanese Heritage Fund, which will be used for educational initiatives and “exhibitions and programs focused on Japanese artistic and cultural heritage in the United States.” They will also place a plaque in the museum honoring Setsuka’s parents, Shiotaro and Tatsuno Oka, as per the requirements of the bequest.

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