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Frankfurt returns painting to heirs of Jewish collector murdered in the Holocaust

“This settlement provides a measure of closure and justice for the Rüdenberg family,” said Adrienne Harris, New York superintendent of financial services.

Detail of "Portrait of a Lady (Portrait of Therese Karl)" (1890) by Fritz von Uhde. Credit: Städel museum, Frankfurt.
Detail of "Portrait of a Lady (Portrait of Therese Karl)" (1890) by Fritz von Uhde. Credit: Städel museum, Frankfurt.

Fritz von Uhde’s painting “Portray of a Lady” will be restituted to the heirs of Jewish collector Gustav Rüdenberg, according to an agreement with the Städel museum in Frankfurt, Germany, which the New York Department of Financial Services announced on May 4.

“Portrait of a Lady (Portrait of Therese Karl),” 1890, by Fritz von Uhde. Credit: Städel Museum, Frankfurt.

Rüdenberg bought the work—one of just a few from his collection to survive World War II—at auction in 1916. In 1937, he was forced to sell it “well below market value” to the city of Frankfort, before he and his wife Elsbeth were deported to Riga, Latvia, where they were murdered, according to the department.

“This settlement provides a measure of closure and justice for the Rüdenberg family, preserving Gustav Rüdenberg’s legacy as a collector and important member of the art community,” stated Adrienne Harris, New York superintendent of financial services.

The painting is one of the artist’s few portraits. It depicts his favorite model, Therese Karl, a dancer at Munich’s Royal Court Theatre Ballet.

“The ‘Portrait of a Lady’ was restituted to their heirs in 2022. Thanks to their generosity, the museum was able to reacquire it,” according to the Städel museum. “This plaque shall honor the lives and fate of Gustav and Elsbeth Therese Rüdenberg, of blessed memory, and all those murdered by the Nazis.”

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