Arthur Feldmann (Biographical details)

Arthur Feldmann (legal; collector; Czech; Male; 1877 - 1941)

Also known as

Feldmann, Arthur

Biography

Czech lawyer and collector of Old Master drawings from Brno. Born 9 February 1877 in Vyškov, Moravia, son of Leopold Feldmann, a merchant. He went to school at the German Gymnasium in Kroměříž and from 1896 - 1900 read law at the University of Vienna. He worked at the District Court in Brno and in the employment of Dr Samuel Weizmann before he established his own practice in Brno. He began collecting Old Master drawings in about 1922; by 1939, he had over 700 drawings. His particular area of interest was central European drawings of the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Wilhelm Suida and Otto Benesch advised him on acquisitions. 328 of the most important drawings were put up for sale in 1934 (Lucerne, Gilhofer and Ranschburg, 28 June) but only 87 sold; the rest were returned to Brno. His villa at Pisárky was invaded by the Gestapo on 15 March, 1939, and all of his belongings, including the collection of drawings was removed. He was prevented from working as a lawyer, and lived with friends until his arrest by the Nazis in March 1941, when he was tortured and sentenced to death. He suffered a stroke and was released, dying a few days later on 16 March. His wife, Gisela died in Auschwitz. Their two sons, Karl and Otto emigrated.
It is not known what happened to the bulk of the Feldmann collection of drawings. After the war, a group of them were consigned for sale (as 'The Property of a Private Collector'; identified as belonging to Feldmann by Frits Lugt) by a firm of lawyers, Bennett & Bennett, at Sotheby's, London, 16th October, 1946, lots 40-84. Earlier, the Moravian Provincial Museum in Brno purchased 135 of them from the German authorities in 1942. In 1962, these were moved to the Moravian Galerie in Brno, and in 2003, they were restituted to the family under a new law passed by the Czech government. In 2004, the Czech Ministry of Culture bought the five most important drawings in the collection from the heirs: Hans von Aachen, 'Allegory of the Arts with Minerva introducing Painting to the Muses', Johann Christophs Schürer, 'The unequal pair', Lodovico Cardi, il Cigoli, 'Christ asleep in the boat', Giovanni Stefano Danedi, called Montalto, 'A martyrdom' and Anton Kern, 'Rebecca at the fountain. These are now in the Moravian Gallery in Brno. 57 of the drawings that were returned to the family were sold at Sotheby's in July, 2005. A further sale of his drawings took place in New York, Sotheby's, 28th JAnuary 2009, lots 56-62 and 165.

Bibliography

Zdenek Kazlepka, Catalogue of drawings from Czech collections, exh cat. Brno, c.2003; Sotheby's, 'Old Master Drawings including property from the Arthur Feldmann collection', London, 6 July 2005, includes an introduction about the collection; David Hirst, 'Report of the Spoliation Advisory Panel in respect of four drawings now in the possession of the British Museum', printed for the House of Commons, The Stationery Office, London, 27 April, 2006.
For 30 Feldmann drawings presented by his grandson to the Albertina, Vienna, between 2011 and 2015, see 'Spurensuche. Die Sammlung Arthur Feldmann und die Albertina' edited by Achim Gnann and Heinz Schödl, Vienna, 2015.