An unusual reinstatement has been made in Germany of a work by the Expressionist painter Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. The painting is The Judgment of Paris, which was stolen during World War II. The German government took a hand to help the Wilhelm-Hack-Museum, which has exhibited the work for the past 30 years or so, to purchase it for €1.2 million. The Ernst von Siemens Foundation and the chemical company BASF both donated money towards the purchase. The German Minister of Culture, Monika Grütters, was delighted with the arrangement and stated that this painting was one of the “key works” in Kirchner’s career.
The Judgment of Paris by the Expressionist painter Ernst Ludwig Kirchner had been exhibited at the Wilhelm-Hack-Museum in Ludwigshafen since 1979. The painting had a dark history, however, as it had been confiscated from the family of the collector Alfred Hess during World War II, as the Nazis considered it an example of “degenerate art”. Forced to put it in storage by the Nazis, Alfred’s wife Tekla tried to safeguard the work before emigrating to England in 1939, but it was stolen from its place of storage and later sold to the German collector Wilhelm Hack.
This is the second time that a painting has been bought from the heirs of Alfred and Tekla Hess. Last September the Neue Galerie in New York returned a painting to them by Karl Schmidt-Rottluff before purchasing it back for a sum that has not been made public.