Salzburg Regional Collections - Provenance Research and Restitution

Table of contents: History of the "Landesgalerie"


(translated by Ulrike Engelsberger)

The constitution of the „Landesgalerie“ was concretely initiated in autumn of the year 1940. On February 13, 1942 the gallery was founded as a particular legal entity by „Gauleiter“ Gustav A. Scheel. As listed in the inventory 488 objects of art were the nucleus of its collections, consisting of 459 paintings and 29 sculptures. Its collections enclosed further about 160 fitments, period furniture, carpets, tapestries. Also about 100 or 200 reproductions for the purpose of studying drawings by important artists as well as literature on the history of art belonged to it. On June 1, 1944 the „Landesgalerie“ was assigned to the administration union of the „Museum of Salzburg“ (Zweckverband „Salzburger Museum“ ) and therefore it lost the status of a separate legal entity. After the adminsitration union had been dissolved on December 31, 1945 the „Landesgalerie“ continued de facto up to the beginning of the Fiftieth.

The idea of creating a highgrade picture-gallery at Salzburg dates back prior to World War I. In 1923 the project was actually realized, but under modest circumstances. The new founded „Residenzgalerie“could in no way meet all requirements. Such had been demanded by Friedrich Welz (born 1903 in Salzburg, died 1980 in Salzburg) since the year 1935. In 1934/35 Welz had taken over the parental shop for picture – frames in Salzburg, situated in 16, Sigmund-Haffner-Gasse. After he had moved to 7, Schwarzstraße (today No. 15) in Salzburg, an address offering better chances for commercial trading, he transformed his business into the „Galerie Welz“. Though even if the property relations have changed, this private gallery is existing almost continuously till today. Now it is located at 16, Sigmund-Haffner-Gasse in Salzburg.

The high pretensions, Welz claimed on managing a public gallery under his direction, could not be realized under the government of Salzburg´s politicians before 1938. Not until after the „Anschluss“ of Austria by Hitler-Germany on March 13, 1938, Welz found in the politicians likeminded partners, who were thinking in similar great dimensions. Salzburg was the smallest „Reichsgau“ of the „German Reich“ and „Gauleiter“ Friedrich Rainer had to seize every chance to defend the survival of his „Gau“. The only opportunity of profiling was confined to the cultural field. Hence, Welz found a willing ear for his plan of founding a regional gallery. In 1939/40, Welz, who had joined the NSDAP in July 1938, was commissioned to prepare for a creation of a „Landesgalerie“.

An important role in organizing the gallery played the decision of the „Reichskanzlei“ in Berlin, to use the Palace of Kleßheim near Salzburg as a guest-house and residence for the Führer. By selling the Palace to the „Reich“, „Gauleiter“ Rainer secured the essential financial means which he spent also for the creation of the „Landesgalerie“. But even more important was the plan to furnish the Palace, as lacking on fitments, with historical furniture. In autumn of 1940, Friedrich Welz was deputetd to Paris, to settle this business. Besides the purchases for Kleßheim, he also bought artworks on his private behalf and he reportet to Gauleiter Rainer of the excellent facilities on the Parisian artmarket. Therewith he succeeded in cinvincing the „Gauleiter“to provide the required money for further acquisitions. On four additional business tours to Paris during autumn 1940 and autumn 1941, Welz bought from at all 43 dealers an unknown number of fine - artworks and pieces of historical furniture. Of these artworks he later catalogued 312 objects belonging to the „Landesgalerie“, consisting of 288 paintings and 24 sculptures.

Each of these purchases originates in the trade in works of art. Invoices verifying this business have been lost since 1945, but they proveably had existed. His most important source was the Parisian dealer Rudolf Holzapfel, from whom he bought 108 objects. Holzapfel was well connected with Nazi diginitaries interested in fine arts. A great many of the objects Welz had bought from him or from other dealers (Paul Cailleux, Raphael Gérard etc.) is supposed to have had passed on dubious ways into the hands of the dealers. It can be taken for granted that Welz was informed of these circumstances. Nevertheless, he had no admittance to the looted art, as meant in the literal sense of being hoarded in the Jeu de Paume.

On July 13, 1941 the exhibition „Französische Kunst des 19. Jahrhunderts“ („French Art of the 19 th Century“) was opened in Salzburg in the rooms of the private gallery of Welz, presenting the Parisian purchases. Nevertheless, the „Landesgalerie“ had not yet officially been founded. The official foundation was a formless legal action, enforced by the new „Gauleiter“ Gustav A. Scheel (since 1942) on February 13, 1942. According the drafting of the minutes, all those objects of art belonged to the „Landesgalerie“ which were either immediatly to their disposal or placed in the official bureaus and palaces. However it was explicitly regulated that objects might also be sold in order to finance with the proceeds new acquisitions. Welz, since then having had acted without any official confirmation as „The Commissener of the Gauleiter and the Reichsstatthalter for the Landesgalerie Salzburg“ („Der Beauftragter des Gauleiters und Reichstatthalters für die Landesgalerie Salzburg“), now presented himself - though again without any formal appointment – as „Director of the Landesgalerie Salzburg“ („Leiter der Landesgalerie Salzburg“) and managed the business by himself.

After the foundation on February 13, 1942, Welz, set up, by involving older documents, two inventory lists about the collections of the „Landesgalerie“: the so-called „G-List“ („G-Liste“) for works of fine art (G = Gemälde) and the so-called „E-List „ („E-Liste“) for the fitments (E = Einrichtungsgegenstände). The very inventory book of 1943, being now prestented in this publication, originate in this „G-List“. The inventory book was written in its first part by Welz himself (including to the inventory number 487) and from March 1944 on continued by his assistant, Martha Osthoff (from inventory number 488). After the year 1945 the US Officer of Fine Arts, Captain Sattgast, and the French Officer of Fine Arts, Capitaine Boris Lossky, also noted their researches after the whereabouts of the objects of the „Landesgalerie“ in this same inventory book.

On the basis of the „G-“ and the „E- List“ the „Reichsgau“ Salzburg took actually possession of the collection in May 1942. As new rooms for a proper presentation could not be found, the „Landesgalerie“ still remained in the private show rooms of the „Galerie Welz“ at 7, Schwarzstraße (today No. 15) in Salzburg. Its administration and its depot were in Salzburg, both, in the „Residence“ („Residenz“) and in the building of the dissolved Abbey of St. Peter. From 1943 on, because of the increasing threat of the aerial warfare, the greatest part of the collection was moved to the shelters, as to the air-raid shelters of the „Residence“ („Residenz“), of the Castle Lichtenberg near Saalfelden and above all to the private villa of Friedrich Welz at St. Gilgen (ca. 30 km to the east of Salzburg). As long as the progress of the war allowed, Welz presented parts of the collections of the „Landesgalerie“ in several exhibitions between summer 1943 and summer 1944. Besides, Welz unswervingly kept on purchasing for the „Landesgalerie“ and bought, mainly from fine-art-dealers, 170 objects of fine arts of Austrian origin, in addition to the almost 300 French paintings and sculptures. Also in case of the purchases done in Austria, largely in Salzburg and in Vienna, the spectrum of the transactions reaches from objects of entirely harmless origin to those of confiscated Jewish collections whose former owners had under the Nazi-regime lost not even their paintings but in many cases also their lives.

On July 1, 1944 the „Landesgalerie“ was dissolved as a separate legal entity and become incorporated, together with all other public collections of the „Reichsgau“ and of the community of Salzburg, in the administration union of the „Museum of Salzburg“ (Zweckverband „Salzburger Museum“). Bruno Grimschitz, the famous connoisseur of Vienna, took its management. Now, Welz played no more than a minor role. In September 1944 he was reported to active duty in the „Wehrmacht“, whereupon he retired from all of his functions.

After the US-forces had entered Austria in May 1945, the occupation authorities took charge of the objects of arts of the former „Landesgalerie“. The paintings were moved from the shelters to Salzburg, where they were stored mainly in the „Residence“ („Residenz“). On the application of the „French Commission for Restitution“ Welz was detained in Camp Marcus W. Orr („Lager Glasenbach“) from November 9, 1945 to April 17, 1947. With his help 198 of 312 objects of French provenance could be found and restored to France. 19 were discovered at a later date, today they are in the „Residenzgalerie Salzburg“. 101 objects are still missing. Eight of the 170 paintings, mostly of Austrian provenance, were restituted, after they had been claimed by their Jewish pre-owners. Eight objects must be considered as lost, 154 objects are still in Salzburg: 109 of them are in the „Residenzgalerie“ and in the administration offices of the Government of Salzburg, 44 are in the „Rupertinum“, one is in the „Salzburger Museum“.

The new director of the Museum of Salzburg, Rigobert Funke-Elbstadt, served the US – occupation authorities as central figure in questions of art. About 1950 the Government of Salzburg began to take interest in the property of the former „Landesgalerie“. All the remaining paintings were recollected. They form a fundamental part of the collections of the new „Salzburger Residenzgalerie“, which had discontinued its activities in 1939 and was reactivated in 1951. Inspite of all efforts, Friedrich Welz was not successful in taking an active part. With the formal opening of the new „Residenzgalerie Salzburg“ on August 3, 1952 the history of the „Landesgalerie Salzburg“ can be considered as closed.

Koller, Fritz: Inventarbuch der Landesgalerie Salzburg 1942-1944.
Salzburg 2000, S. 47- 48.

Table of contents: History of the "Landesgalerie"